Advancing justice

In 2021 and 2022, Maytree explored the relationship between human rights, poverty, racism, and the criminal justice system. To deepen our understanding, we had conversations with and published contributions by researchers and practitioners, as well as individuals with lived experience. The result was “Advancing justice,” a series of articles and podcast interviews published on the Maytree website.

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Advancing justice: How racism and poverty degrade human rights and undermine the criminal justice system​

The contributors surfaced a number of critical themes. The final article summarizes these themes, and we encourage you to listen to the podcast episodes and read the articles for deeper insight into the issues, and how these issues are interconnected.

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Advancing justice

Advancing justice: Human rights, poverty, racism, and Canada’s criminal justice system

The criminal justice system – from police to courts to prisons – is intricately tied to our economic and social rights. Failure to fulfill these rights creates poverty, giving rise to and deepening cycles of marginalization and vulnerability. All this, of course, is exacerbated by systemic racism. In “Advancing justice,” researchers and practitioners will explore these issues as well as potential solutions and promising practices.

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Understanding the impact of racism, colonialism, and poverty on Canada’s criminal justice system

In a conversation with Maytree president Elizabeth McIsaac, Akwasi Owusu-Bempah explores the historical roots of racism in the criminal justice system. In particular, he talks about how racism and colonialism contribute to the social and economic inequalities and discrimination experienced by Indigenous, Black, and racialized communities in Canada, and in turn shapes their interactions with the criminal justice system.

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Race-based data in the criminal justice system​

In this month’s contribution to “Advancing justice,” Dr. Mai Phan writes about the importance of collecting race-based data in the criminal justice system, and about the conditions that need to be in place before we collect and use race-based data to inform the work of achieving public safety and justice. As she writes, significant culture change is required to prepare the justice sector to responsibly use race data and achieve equity goals.

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Beyond gatekeepers: Fostering accountable justice

As Sabreena Delhon writes in this month’s contribution to “Advancing justice,” the pandemic provides an opportunity for transformation. We need to seize it – to enhance not only the quality of justice, but also how it is perceived, engaged, and secured in our society.

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“Guilty until proven innocent”: Tyrone’s story​

In this contribution to “Advancing justice,” Maytree president Elizabeth McIsaac speaks to Tyrone, a 25-year-old man who grew up and still lives in Scarborough. Tyrone talks about how his interactions with the criminal justice system began at the age of 13, when he was illegally stopped by the police in the community. At age 15, he was charged, arrested, and held in remand because the police mistook him for another Black youth. Now, as a young man, he’s looking to share his story and give back to his community.

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Expanding the talent pool: Why the criminal justice system needs more diversity and inclusion

Maytree president Elizabeth McIsaac speaks to Dr. Tanya (Toni) De Mello, Assistant Dean for Student Programming, Development and Equity at the Lincoln Alexander Law School at Ryerson University, and Harsimran Sidhu and Kaylee Rich, both students at the law school, about the barriers obstructing access to justice for Indigenous, Black, and racialized people.

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Rethinking community policing: Civilian partners in public safety

In this contribution to “Advancing justice,” Akwatu Khenti, Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health, argues that community-led health and safety initiatives can optimize public safety. He explains how a 24-hour mobile crisis response program in Eugene and Springfield, Oregon, United States, contains lessons for other municipalities’ non-police efforts, including a soon-to-be launched pilot project in Toronto.

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Confronting anti-Black racism through the courts, community activism, and government action

In this month’s contribution to “Advancing justice,” Anthony Morgan joins Elizabeth McIsaac to talk about the issue of anti-Black racism in the criminal justice system in Canada and the role of municipalities in confronting anti-Black racism.

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Indigenous Peoples and the injustice of justice

Using data, storytelling, and history, Laura Arndt explains why the criminal justice system is still in a state of crisis as it relates to Indigenous Peoples, and what can be done about it.

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