Advancing justice

“Advancing justice” explores the relationship between human rights, poverty, racism, and the criminal justice system. To deepen our understanding of the issues, we talk to and publish contributions by researchers and practitioners. We explore themes such as the historical roots of the present-day realities, the challenges associated with the lack of race-based data, issues specific to Indigenous communities, lack of access to justice, as well as potential solutions and promising practices.


Featured article and podcast

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

Infusing inclusion and diversity into the legal ranks can help build underrepresented groups’ trust in the system. In this month’s contribution to “Advancing justice,” 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.

They discuss how the barriers obstructing access to justice for Indigenous, Black, and racialized people are found not only in the legal profession itself, but in the academic pipeline that produces its practitioners.

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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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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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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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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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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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