John Howard Society of Durham Region

Donors & Funders

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We’re a registered charity, and you can help! By donating to the JHS, you support a spectrum of effective prevention and intervention programs that help individuals and families throughout our community. You can even setup a monthly gift plan, and make donations in memory/on behalf of someone important to you. If you would like to discuss your gift, please feel free to contact us at , and thank you for thinking of us as part of your community support!

We use Canada Helps to process donations, so you will receive you tax receipt automatically from Canada Helps. Your bank/credit card statement will show or, but you can be assured that your donation comes to JHS Durham.

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Our Donor Levels

For donations of up to $499. As a Friend of JHS, you have joined the movement started by John Howard over 2 centuries ago. Your gift of under up to $500 is will make an important impact on the community as John Howard did centuries ago. He reforms continue in practise today, and you are a new set of hands to carry the torch into a new century of programming.

The Beginning Step

John Howard cared about his country and his community. At the age of 30, he had heard of a devastating earthquake striking the city of Lisbon, Portugal. He made the choice, a pivtol one, to sail to the site to offer help to those in need. It was this step that began his long and dramatic path work in the area of criminal justice reforms, elementary level education for children, sanitation systems as well as other areas of societal values that we still see the effects from today.

It’s said John had a manner and air about him that allowed him to develop a rapport and trust with others readily. His approach brought down barriers to change, and enouraged important new ways of thinking about persons in conflict with the law, which is why today there are many agencies across Canada, the UK and elsewhere who adopt his name for their work in the community.

For donations up to $1,999. As a Passenger of the Hanover, you have commenced a voyage of making a difference in the lives of fellow community members.

John’s Journey on the Hanover

In 1755, John Howard was readying himself for another tour of the European Countries. He had heard there was a great earthquake in Lisbon, Portugal which left thousands of people homeless. When he heard of the tragic news, John Howard decided he would first set out for Lisbon to see what help he could offer to his fellow men and women.

On his journey to Lisbon, the French captured his ship and he was placed in a dungeon with other prisoners of war. It was here that many believe John Howard’s interest in prisoner reform began. He describes the prison as a filthy, dark and damp place where he and the other prisoners spent many hours starving. Here, the prisoners spent a whole week sleeping on nothing but a bed of straw. Eventually, John Howard was able to arrange an exchange for himself and his fellow prisoners.

For donations up to $9,999. As a Fellow of Cardington, you understand the long-term value of investing in your community as John did. Your gift will have an important impact for many families and individuals alike. Helping those around you to improve themselves, as John Howard did in Cardington, is a life-legacy that your community will benefit from for years to come. You will also receive this beautiful plaque to display proudly!

Fellows of Cardington Plaque - Baagwating Community Association

John’s Return to Cardington

Having returned from his incarceration experience in the dungeons of France, John settled again at Cardington, Bedfordshire to live on a 200-acre estate. It was formerly two farms, the larger of which he had inherited from his grandparents. His grandmother, Martha Howard, was a relation of the Whitbread family, and he became a neighbour and close friend of his cousin, Samuel Whitbread.

John spent the next two years building properties and trying to improve the lives of the tenants living on his land. Later, a survey of Cardington in 1782 found that he was paying for the teaching of 23 children. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in May 1756.

For donations up to $19,999. Patrons are on the path to long-term support and giving at a level that can impact dozens of individuals and families in any number of areas. Your gift can help with the infrastructure delivery of programs that change a person’s life by putting them on-track to achieve their full potential. When the individual succeeds, our community as a whole benefits as we improve our health, safety and social justice. As part of this level, you will receive this uniquely numbered plaque.

Patron of Savoy Plaque - Home Depot

John’s Intervention at Savoy

The military prison of Savoy in London saw 200 prisons erupt in a violent riot. The building was completely under the rioters control, two guards had been killed, and none of the local authorities could make any headway at bringing calm to the situation.

Upon hearing of the incident, John Howard immediately travelled to the facility to address the inmates. Unarmed and dismissing the warnings of the authorities on the danger of the situation, John entered the prison by himself. He not only quelled the angry mass, but even got the prisoners to return to their cells quietly. John promised to take their grievances forward, to be their voice of reason, and to bring about change for a just and humane facility.

John Howard is often referred to as the father of modern prison reform as his principals and research lead to many of the core methods encouraged and practiced today.

For donations of $20,000 or more. Our top tier of donors, you want to make the largest possible impact across a number of areas. Your gift goes a long way to helping local individuals and families to receive help with anything from housing and ID replacement, to conflict resolution skills counselling, parenting skills enhancement, after-school youth programs and more. As part of this level, you will receive this uniquely numbered badge plaque.

High Sheriff Plaque for Home Depot

John Howard as High Sheriff

John Howard was appointed the High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1773. He had no knowledge of prison science per say, and so it remained for him to invent it, but he had a thoroughness and devotion to the duty, attending to every peice of official business personally, rather than to assign those tasks to Deputy Sheriff’s, as had been the custom prior to him. John sat in the courts during trials, visited every cell in the gaols of his county, and scrutinized every individual prisoner’s case.

Prisons in Howard’s Time

Howard said that the first circumstance that excited his activity on behalf of prisoners was that men found not guilty at their trial were sent back to gaols and locked up until they had paid the fees due to the gaoler or the Clerk of the Assizes.

Debtors were treated as criminals. The death penalty was applied for 200 different offences, from stealing a pair of shoes or a skein of thread to arson and murder.

Feeding the prisoners was farmed out to the lowest bidder and water was often supplied from outside the prison walls but filth was allowed to accumulate in reeking masses all over the grounds and in the water stores.

Spirituous liquors and beer were sold within the gaol, encouraging drunkness. Men and women were placed in close proximity, and vice was rampant. Straw was seldom provided for bedding and prisoners had to lie on muddy floors with dampness oozing into their cells. Gaol Fever was almost an exclusively British disease, costing many lives.

Current prisoners had the right of demanding an entry fee of new prisoners called a “garnish” before the “privileges” of the prison were allowed to him. This meant for much personal cruelty and inside persecution. Debtors and felons alike were in constant jeopardy of life from the foul air, filthy cells, and unventilated holes into which they were crowded almost to suffocation. Prisoner’s mental health received no attention.

John Howard’s Impact

Distances, labour and even personal expense were no barrier to John. He travelled hundreds of kilometers at a time by post and horseback, night and day through England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Wight. A gaol with even one single prisoner was important enough to draw him for inspection. He recorded his findings in narrative style. He did not seek to create any association or group, but to conduct work for reform by his own hand.

When called to the House of Commons, he was asked to be witness as an expert on prison conditions. His bearing, modesty, precision and exactness of answers filled the House with surprise such that he was called back a second time to be publicly thanked by the Speaker for his humanity and zeal.

John wrote “The State of the Prisons”, printed in 1777, as his own expense, addressed in a format that the general public absrobed readily with clear understanding as to what he had discovered. It created a new interest at a near-universal level in the way prisons and justice were managed at that time.

From this work the theory of criminal law became the true practise of criminal law, and methods began to be reformed to address the filthy conditions, the means of paying the gaolers separately from the prisoner’s being extorted, separation of prisoners into single cells, removal of spirits and more.

John Howard is often referred to as the father of modern prison reform as his principals and research lead to many of the core methods encouraged and practiced today.



The services JHS can offer the community are possible because of the support of many parts of that community. Federal, Provincial, Regional and Municipal governments, United Way, special foundations and corporations have all played an important part in helping us to help you. We greatly appreciate the support of the following program funders:

  • Delta Bingo (Pickering)
  • Durham Children’s Aid Society
    Government of Canada— Homelessness Partnership Strategy
    Government of Canada—Youth Employment Strategy
    KPR District School Board
    Ministry of the Attorney General
    Ministry of Children, Community & Social Services
    Ministry of Education
    Ministry of Health—Long Term Care
    Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities
    Municipality of Clarington
    Region Of Durham
    United Way of Durham Region
    Youth Employment Strategy—Service Canada