By underfunding our legal system, we deny people adequate legal representation and their dignity while in prison. The unacceptable has been normalized: we’ve become desensitized to the true cost of undermining our core legal and moral principles.
There’s reason to have hope. Advocates, journalists, researchers, and every day people have worked for years to generate political and social momentum for system-wide change.
It's essential that we learn from and build on past achievements and ongoing work. We've grouped these efforts into four categories:
Accountability: news media or research that holds our institutions to account
Programs: pilot programs and funded improvements to the justice system
Strategies: specific plans, frameworks, and proposals for reform
Advocacy: protests, media campaigns, legal challenges
The entries below are just a starting point. We need your help to identify the most important and impactful efforts to secure adequate legal representation and dignified prison conditions for people accused of criminal offences. Please share your feedback with us.
Creative media can illustrate to new audiences how investing in our core legal and moral principles - to ensure people have fair legal representation and dignity while in prison - will have a transformative impact on the fairness and efficiency of our legal system.
In 2012, the province-wide capacity rate for Ontario’s jails hit 98.5%, with the busiest facility reaching 117% capacity.
In 2017, Reuters found that of the nearly 270 people who died in Canadian provincial jails over the past 5 years, two-thirds were legally innocent. The most common cause of death was suicide.
In 2016, a study by the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre Task Force found 66% of inmates felt they needed both more health care services and improved quality of care. 34% of inmates were concerned about the potential of disease, and 51% felt the cleanliness of the institution should be improved.
In 2011-12, the average annual cost per prisoner in provincial jails was about $67,000.
A 2004 study by the UCLA School of Policy Research found that an investment in prison education is nearly twice as effective in preventing crimes than the same investment in incarceration.