Effective, just, and humane responses to crime and its causes.
Core Values & Principles
The John Howard Society:
- encourages the development of attitudes of personal accountability on the part of those people who have been in conflict with the law
- believes that all people have the potential to become responsible citizens
- shall make the public aware of the needs and issues involved in criminal justice
- encourages all citizens to become involved in the delivery and management of justice related services
- endorses a restorative model of justice and is committed to implementing that model in its own work
- promotes activities which contribute towards a safe and healthy community
Who is John Howard?
John Howard was an 18th century Englishman who was made the Sheriff of Bedford, a post which included among its duties, the task of inspecting local prisons. Few sheriffs actually bothered to carry out these duties but John Howard was different. Shocked by the corruption, stench, filth, starvation and disease he saw in the jails, he dedicated his life to improving prison conditions throughout England, Wales and continental Europe. His famous report, On the State of Prisons in England and Wales led to legislation against the more obvious evils of the system, and slowly moved public opinion to favour more humane prison conditions.
In 1874 this small group became known as the “Prisoners Aid Association of Toronto.” They soon came to recognize that more than spiritual aid was needed by prisoners, but interest dwindled during World War I (1914-1918). In 1929 a citizens’ group led by Toronto’s Chief of Police, General Draper, reactivated their cause as the “Citizens Service Association.” The Citizens Service Association – an organization of volunteers – set itself the task of providing practical help to ex-prisoners with housing, clothing and employment.
In 1946, the “Citizens Service Association” in Ontario changed its name and became the John Howard Society of Ontario. Most other provinces formed John Howard Societies between 1947 and 1960.
Currently, there are branches and offices in over 60 communities across Canada, provincial offices in all 10 provinces and the Northwest Territories and a national office in Kingston, Ontario.
The original focus of the founders of the John Howard Society was helping men released from prison. While aftercare continues to be a core service to this day, the activities of local Societies have expanded over the years. The services now include institutional services, employment services, addiction services, housing services, services for youth, preventive programming, education services, literacy and life skills programs, community services and, most recently, services for people defined as being “at risk” of involvement in criminal activity.
The John Howard Society depends on public involvement. All levels of the organization – from local to national – are governed by voluntary Boards of Directors. Volunteers are extensively involved in the direct service work of the Society. Many also support the work of the John Howard Society through donations.
Board of Directors
Mary Jane Kingston
Manager, Employment Services
Manager, Justice Services
Bail Supervisor/Court Worker
Bail Supervisor/Court Worker
Youth Employment Consultant