Restorative Justice Week (RJW) was held across Canada, and throughout the world, November 19-26, 2017.
The theme for the week was Inspiring Innovation.

Restorative Justice Week is an opportunity to learn the values and principles of restorative justice and how restorative justice applies to a variety of situations in the criminal justice system and in every day challenges.

Restorative Justice (RJ) is a philosophy and an approach that views crime and conflict as harm done to people and relationships. It is a non-adversarial, non-retributive approach to justice that emphasizes healing in victims, accountability of offenders, and the involvement of citizens in creating healthier, safer communities. The goal is to reach meaningful, satisfying, and fair outcomes through inclusion, open communication, and truth.

Proclamation events:

Activities sponsored by the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan (JHSS) this year included acclaimed author Dr. Jerry Goebel.

Dr. Goebel is well known for his work with high-risk youth; focusing on education to reduce bullying, and decreasing teen disenfranchisement. Over the last few years, Dr. Goebel has been working with Social Services to build healthy outcomes for teens in Group Home settings. His topic will be “Engaging High-Risk Youth.”

In an interview during his Saskatoon visit, Dr. Goebels remarked on a possible strategy for helping young people to mature…

Dr Goebels also commented on Restorative Justice Week at a CTV news briefing in Saskatoon. Click here to view the interview.

Leading up to the week, JHSS spokeswomen took to the airwaves to help promote JHSS events and shed more light on what the Society does. Click here to view the interview.

Many people are unaware that JHSS provides housing and other supports for at risk youth throughout Saskatchewan.

JHSS events are intended to help bring to the attention of the public the work John Howard of Saskatchewan does with youth in our communities.  Besides outlining the positive effects of Restorative Justice, JHSS also recognized our community partnerships without which we could not thrive.

Equally important to celebrate during the week were the contributions from our dedicated staff. Many milestones were reached this past year and we honor  the following for their commitment to our association and its principles by which we are directed.

Various pictures of the week:

Both JHSS Board Chair Christine Boyczuk and CEO Greg Fleet were especially pleased with the events this year.

From Board Chair Boyczuk:

“Thank you for all the work you did to create such a successful Restorative Justice Week. I know there is benefit in celebrating what we do and the people who do it.

I really got a sense of pride in the people who work in the organization that you cannot get by being around a board table. There was a great “vibe” that I have a hard time describing. The service awards were a great idea; it demonstrates that the employee and the work they do is valued.

Thank you for this effort and all you do!”

…and from CEO Fleet:

“I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff at our Branches and Provincial Office for your coordination in the Restorative Justice Week events. We had a very successful week across the Province. Congratulations on a job well done!

Once again, congratulations to all staff on achieving this significant milestone in service to the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan.  Whether it is five, ten or fifteen years, JHSS has benefited from your dedication and commitment to service.  We very much appreciate you, and could not achieve our goals without you.

Thanks again for all that you do, and best wishes to each of you for continued success.

Warmest regards.”

And with that we wrap the 2017 edition of Restorative Justice Week. Plans are already underway for our 60th anniversary here in Saskatchewan this year; should be a wonderful time.

Restorative Justice Week activities across Canada began today. Here in Saskatchewan, the John Howard Society (JHSS) events will include Dr. Jerry Goebel who is well known for his work with high risk youth. Dr. Goebel has been working with Social Services to help build healthy outcomes for teens in group home settings, something JHSS is also involved with.
Besides outlining the positive affects of Restorative Justice, JHSS will also be recognizing our community partners without whom we would not thrive.
JHSS spokeswomen recently shed more light on the annual event during a CTV Regina interview……….

Click here to view the CTV Regina interview.

EVENTS SCHEDULED INCLUDE:

Moose Jaw-Nov.21st 11:45, 50 Caribou Street W.
Prince Albert-Nov.22nd,10:AM, 94-15th ST. E
Saskatoon-Nov.22nd, 3PM, 1120-20th St.
Regina-Nov.23rd, 8:30 AM 1651-11th Ave.

Myth: The John Howard Society is preoccupied with offenders and offers very little to victims.

Fact: The John Howard Society is a strong advocate of Restorative Justice. Restorative justice is an approach to justice that personalizes the crime by having the victims and the offenders mediate a restitution agreement to the satisfaction of each, as well as involving the community. This contrasts to more punitive approaches where the main aim is retributive justice or to satisfy abstract legal principles.
Victims take an active role in the process. Meanwhile, offenders take meaningful responsibility for their actions, taking the opportunity to right their wrongs and redeem themselves, in their own eyes and in the eyes of the community. In addition, the restorative justice approach aims to help the offender to avoid future offenses.
Restorative justice that fosters dialogue between victim and offender has shown the highest rates of victim satisfaction and offender accountability.
(Source – Wikipedia)

Our Moose Jaw branch recently completed a Victim / Offender Mediation, through the Alternative Measures Program, relating to a theft under $5000.00 charge. The mediation was most successful with both parties being able to address concerns with the victim receiving restitution for the stolen item. The accused was very happy to be able to apologize in person, as these events were out of character for him. The offender was using heavily, when the offence occurred, and the victim was able to see that the theft wasn’t personal. During our follow-up with the offender we were told that the two of them are now friends on Facebook, having continued positive contact with each other. The victim was the one that reached out to the offender and added him as a ‘friend’. Our client stated, ‘Isn’t that crazy, we are now friends’.

For more information on Restorative Justice please click on the below link.
http://www.johnhoward.on.ca/…/facts-28-restorative-justice-…

Greg Fleet
Chief Executive Officer
John Howard Society of Saskatchewan

Myth:

Most people who go to prison will spend most of their lives there.

Fact:

It is estimated that over 90% of people who are sent to prison will eventually be released to the community.
Unfortunately, there are many who will re-offend, especially when they have not been treated for mental illness and/or addictions.
Approx. 80% of those incarcerated have mental health and/or addiction problems. This tells us that treatment and rehabilitation are critical to reduce recidivism, enhance public safety and instill confidence within our corrections system. People are sent to prison as punishment, not to be punished! The absence of effective programming and lack of resources to deal with mental health and addiction issues contribute immensely to those that re-offend once released.
Effective, Just & Humane treatment of those being incarcerated will result in safer communities.

Greg Fleet
Chief Executive Officer
John Howard Society of Saskatchewan

Myth or Fact

Myth:

The John Howard Society is opposed to Solitary Confinement.

Fact:

The John Howard Society is committed to effective, just and humane corrections.
Serious and detrimental effects on mental and physical health from solitary confinement and segregation are well documented.

John Howard Society seeks restrictions on the use of solitary confinement, segregation, and seclusion in all Canadian penitentiaries, correctional facilities, jails and detention centres and specifically that:
(a) consistent with the recommendations of the Coroner’s jury in the Ashley Smith Inquest,
periods of solitary confinement be limited to a maximum of 15-day periods separated by at least 5 days not in solitary confinement and no more than a total of 60 days be spent in solitary confinement in a calendar year;
(b) solitary confinement be prohibited for those with serious or acute mental illness; and
(c) access to judicial review of a prisoner’s solitary confinement be provided.

For further information please follow the link below.
http://johnhoward.ca/…/Special-Resolution-Solitary-Confinem…

Crime and Unemployment: What’s the link?

The rates of unemployment of those entering prisons, compared to the general population, illustrate the strong relationship between employment and crime. One study showed that 75% of those admitted to federal institutions were assessed as having some or considerable difficulty in the area of employment. The latest Canadian data indicate that both sentenced and remanded prisoners show dramatically high unemployment rates at admission of over 40%, while the national rate is normally between 6 and 7%.
Further to this correlation, researchers have identified unemployment as a significant risk factor for criminal activity and property crime in particular. Interesting evidence of this is found in Statistics Canada’s examination of crime and the broader labour market. The data below suggest that unemployment and property crime have been closely synchronized over the last 40 years.
These relationships, while significant and correlative, do not prove causality nor tell the whole story – after all, most unemployed people do not resort to crime. There are a myriad of predictive factors that interact to increase the likelihood that someone will commit crime.
Indeed, lack of employment may be entangled with the interrelated issues of education, literacy and learning delays. The relationship between employment and criminal behaviour can also be influenced by a variety of other social and health and factors, such as addictions, mental health concerns, developmental disabilities such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, poverty, discrimination and lack of stable housing.
Educational is a prime example of this interaction. Educational attainment has a clear relationship with stability and quality of employment, with, for example, unemployment rates in the general public being 12% for those with less than high school level education and 4% for those with university degrees, in 2006. Workers with less than a high school education unsurprisingly have significantly lower earnings on average.
It is also clear that educational attainment is related to criminality. While the 2006 census showed that 15% of the general population had not completed high school (with the concentration of this group being people over 55 years), the latest data show that more than half of those in custody have not graduated from high school. Given the increasing demand for higher levels of education and skill in the Canadian labour market, these low rates of educational achievement within the prisoner population underscore the need for employment-related interventions for those at risk of involvement in the criminal jus-tice system.
While the research in this area continues to clarify the nature of the relationship between crime and employment, we can confidently conclude that they are closely related. Offering client services that increase potential for stable employment for those at risk of future or further involvement in the criminal justice system can only have a positive impact on reducing criminal behavior.
(Source – John Howard Society of Ontario)

Greg Fleet
Chief Executive Officer
John Howard Society of Saskatchewan

The looming shutdown of Saskatchewan Transportation Company could leave newly-released prisoners out in the cold, according to one of the province’s leading advocates for prison reform.

Announced in Wednesday’s provincial budget, the publicly-owned bus service is set to dissolve on May 31. While the province expects the move to generate significant savings, Greg Fleet, CEO of the John Howard Society of Saskatchewan, said the closure could also create headaches for newly-released prisoners who in many cases have not been convicted.

“It will create some challenges for inmates, either finishing their sentence or those that are on remand in the provincial system, to return to their northern communities,” Fleet told paNOW. “We’re not sure how those challenges are going to be met, but it’s definitely going to create some hardships.”

Fleet said prisoners taken to Prince Albert to be held in custody while they await court appearances are typically given a bus ticket or alternate transportation home upon their release. Remanded prisoners have not been found guilty of a crime, Fleet noted, and often come from remote communities.

“There’s going to be some very unique challenges, especially because a lot of the people that are serving time in Prince Albert Correctional Centre are from the northern part of our province,” Fleet said. “Returning those people home is going to be difficult, and we just don’t know what response the [Ministry] of Justice will have in place to cover off the loss of STC.”

Fleet said it was possible some newly-released inmates will simply remain in Prince Albert after their release due to a lack of transportation, which he said is concerning as it would separate them from their families and other supports they would receive in their home communities.

An alternative to STC must be made available, Fleet said, but options are scarce as private bus companies may not be willing to take a financial hit by adopting STC’s northern routes and taxis are almost never an option for long trips.

“There’s really no easy solution to this,” Fleet said. “But one needs to be found.”

Speaking at a luncheon in Prince Albert Friday, Provincial Finance Minister Kevin Doherty said the various issues created by the closure of STC, including its impact on newly-released prisoners, will need to be addressed individually as they arise.

“As we identify those kinds of concerns, if there’s an opportunity to do something to alleviate those concerns, we’ll take a look at that,” Doherty said, but noted there were no provisions made in the recently-tabled budget for alternative transportation.

Doherty said STC staff has done good work serving Saskatchewan residents for many years, but the business model was unsustainable and tough choices had to be made. The province, Doherty said, decided the $85 to $100 million used annually to subsidize STC would be better spent in the education, healthcare and social services systems.

Private transportation services will likely step up to fill the vacuum left by STC, Doherty said, as will charitable organizations and service clubs. The province will address any problems created by the closure on a case-by-case basis, he said.

“We’ll just have to play this out,” Doherty said.

Myth:

The John Howard Society has no public plan to Improve the Corrections System in Canada

Fact:
The John Howard Society of Canada has publicly promoted a 5 Point Plan to Improve the Corrections System in Canada. This plan is supported by all John Howard Societies across the country.
1. Respect the Presumption of Innocence: Address Canada’s Bail / Reform Crisis
2. Sue for Peace in the War on Drugs
3. Treat rather than Punish the Mentally Ill
4. Proportionate and Constructive Penalties
5. From Confinement to Contribution: Effective Corrections

For full details of this 5 point plan click the link to: http://www.johnhoward.ca/5-point-plan/

Greg Fleet
Chief Executive Officer
John Howard Society of Saskatchewan
(306) 584-2115