John Howard Society of Toronto





Welcome to the John Howard Society of Toronto. We provide programs and services to adults (18+) who have been in conflict with the law. Our focus is in three areas: alternatives to prison, in-reach to the prisons and post-release services for inmates upon leaving jail. We have four offices in the Toronto area (Eglinton West, Danforth, Scarborough and South Etobicoke). Our goal is to make Toronto safer by prevention, intervention and reintegration. We provide New Beginnings!

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Latest JHST News


Amalgamation: A Success!

The John Howard Society of Toronto is pleased to announce that following a merger with St. Leonard’s Society of Toronto, it now stands as one of the largest local providers of community correctional services and programs.

 TORONTO- “We are confident that our enhanced capacity will better serve people who are and who have been in conflict with the law.  Together, we can make communities safer and improve the outcomes of those we help.  I am extremely proud of the work being done at the new John Howard Society of Toronto and I am honored to lead this team as we consolidate, support and expand our programs”, said Sonya Spencer, the John Howard Society of Toronto’s new Executive Director.

Leaders in correctional programming and related services, the new John Howard Society of Toronto boasts over 80 years of experience in the Greater Toronto Area with strong legacies and a foundation built through both John Howard and St. Leonard’s Society.

A statement from The Board of Director’s President, Gus Lyn-Piluso, thanked outgoing Director Greg Rogers for his role in helping to catalyze the merger to make it reality.  He also expressed a sincere gratitude to all of our stakeholders, clients, and employees for their patience and support.  He said, “This is truly an exciting time in correctional programming.   Together, we eagerly await what we know will be the positive results of the synergies of this amalgamation which will ultimately provide a full continuum of services in the support of safe and healthy communities”.

The team at the newly amalgamated John Howard Society of Toronto has the ability to champion important change by leveraging new partnerships in developing a full spectrum of services, including innovative and creative programs for our clients, while reducing costs in the long-term.

For more information contact Sonya Spencer, Executive Director at  or (416) 925-4386 ext. 224


CBC Metro Morning – John Howard Society of Toronto’s Amber Kellen speaks with Matt Galloway

January 12, 2016

Season 2016, Episode 300235480

Centre that helps people out of jail with nowhere to go needs a new home

The Reintegration Centre, across the road from Ontario’s biggest jail, has until the end of March to figure out how to continue helping people just out of jail get back into society.

Once people are released from the South Detention Centre in Etobicoke, they can go any which way they choose. But the most popular option is across the street.

The Reintegration Centre run by the John Howard Society is right across the road from Ontario’s biggest jail, and one out of every four inmates walks straight there after being released.

But the centre is in peril. Its partners can no longer pay the rent that is required to stay in its prime location next to the giant jail, and the non-profit John Howard Society has until the end of March to figure out how to continue its services without the building.

“It’s a bit of a crisis,” Amber Kellen, the director of the reintegration centre, told Metro Morning. “People need a roof over their heads to make some important changes to their lives.”

Read the Full Article….

JHST – Reintegration Centre – The Other Side of the Road


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The Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC) is a maximum security jail that opened January 27, 2014 in South Etobicoke. At capacity is will house 1,620 male inmates. More than 180 men will be released from the jail each week and 33-44% will be homeless. Mental health and substance use issues are also prevalent among those released from jails which may present significant hurdles for local social and emergency service providers. In the communities surrounding the jail, there is a lack of affordable housing while both men’s shelters and addiction treatment centres are non-existent. In general, social services and resources are deficient in the area and there are concerns about the ability of the existing programs to manage the large number of high needs prison releasees. Our solution has been the South Etobicoke Reintegration Centre, or, the “RC”. The RC is a triage and referral site for newly released individuals leaving the Toronto South Detention Centre who require assistance to transition into the community. Based loosely on the United Way’s “hub” model, the John Howard Society’s staff, peers and partners offer a one-stop-shop, judgement-free environment to help men to connect with the systems and support services across the City of Toronto that they need. Accompaniment and community support is also provided by peers (people who have lived experience with the correctional system as well as substance use). RC staff and peers also provide harm reduction education and tools in an effort to prevent overdoses. Clothing, snacks, coffee, access to telephones, and also made available at the RC. Our current on-site partners include the African Canadian Legal Clinic, Margaret’s, Cota and F.E.A.T.



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