About JHS Ontario

Who We Are

The John Howard Society of Ontario is a not-for-profit organization of 19 local offices dedicated to effective, just and humane responses to crime and its causes.

For more than 90 years, we’ve worked to keep humanity in justice. Today we continue to build a safer Ontario by supporting the people and communities affected by the criminal justice system. Our  local offices deliver more than 80 evidence-based programs and services focused on prevention, intervention and re-integration across the province. These range from helping youth develop the life skills that will let them achieve their full potential, to helping families navigate issues of criminal justice, to providing job training for those leaving incarceration so they can contribute to their community in a meaningful way. We promote practical, equitable policies while raising awareness of the root causes of crime and calling on Ontarians to share responsibility for addressing them. Within the system itself, we advocate for the fair treatment of every individual.

Each year, our work impacts the lives of more than 100,000 Ontarians.

What We Do

We promote practical, evidenced-based policies while providing services, programs and education to all those affected by our criminal justice system. This work includes:

Building bridges between people leaving incarceration and their communities to help them build productive lives.

Advocating for fair treatment for all incarcerated people in accordance with international standards for human rights.

Raising awareness of the root causes of crime and calling on Ontarians to share responsibility for addressing them.

Developing policies, programs, and educational material through our Centre of Research & Policy.

Our History

Inspired by prison reform pioneer John Howard, we trace our roots back to classes taught in Toronto’s Don Jail in the late 1800s.

Our organization was founded in 1929 by Brigadier General Dennis Draper, then Toronto’s Chief of Police, who recognized the futility in much of his work when prisoners released from jail were thrust into unemployment, isolation and poverty. We obtained registered charitable status in 1967, and have been working to keep humanity in justice ever since.

  • John Howard Society Brand Locations and Year of Formation prior to 1959
  • “Freedom, Now the Punishment Starts” a JHSO Poster Campaign during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s
  • The cover of an information pamphlet for inmates being released
  • The cover of an information pamphlet for inmates being released
  • A cover of an information pamphlet for inmates being released
  • John Howard depicted visiting a prison
  • The cover of an information pamphlet for inmates being released – The importance of post-release employment has been long recognized by JHSO
  • JHS Kingston present at United Way Job Fair
  • JHS Kingston present at United Way Job Fair
  • A John Howard Society Kingston Job Fair, April 1958
  • John Howard Society of Kingston Job Fair, April 1958
  • Early prison labour in Kingston, Ontario, a National Film Board photograph
  • Inmate movement at Kingston Penitentiary, a National Film Board photograph
  • Bill McCabe, Executive Director of Kingston at the gates of Kingston Penitentiary
  • Institutional Services worker (Bill McCabe) at the Kingston Penitentiary
  • An Institutional Services worker counselling an inmate
  • Don Irwin, supervisor of JHS Toronto
  • Inside a prison classroom
  • Inside a prison classroom
  • A Client visiting the John Howard Society of Ontario office at Isabella Street, Toronto, Ontario – The “United Way” was formerly known as the “United Appeal”
  • A John Howard Society of Ontario location at 168 Isabella Street, Toronto, Ontario, May 1976
  • Allan Grossman, unknown individual, AM Kirkpatrick
  • Tom Dykstra, JHS Toronto and Gordon McFarlane, Executive Director of JHS Ontario
  • Barry Clark (Supervisor COPS Program Waterloo), Bill Sparks (JHSO Executive Director), Bruce Lackenbauer (JHS Waterloo Board President), Ken Keyes (Ontario Solicitor General)
  • “Don’t Kill for Me” a JHSO postcard campaign during the last death penalty debate in 1986/87
  • Poster Campaign 1977 – The scars and collateral harms from prison can be longstanding