The John Howard Society of Toronto is a non-profit organization committed to providing and developing programs that reduce the social, economic and personal cost of crime. The Society is dedicated to helping all people who have been in conflict with the law and adults at imminent risk of coming into conflict with the law through service, education and community programs.
The roots of the John Howard Society can be traced back to 18th Century England to a man named John Howard. He began investigating prison conditions - lack of medical care, sanitation, death from disease and starvation, dirt floors, beatings etc. He wrote a paper that was presented to the British House of Parliament entitled "On the State of Prisons in England". He began the reform movement. He continued to devote the rest of his life to prison reform. He died in 1790.
There are currently 59 John Howard Societies across Canada. There are over 700 employees and last year our annual budget was over $24,000,000. In Canada last year, over 90,000 clients were served by John Howard Society programs.
From the late 1800's there were groups in Toronto who offered different types of services to offenders. Various Church groups, the Prisoners Aid Society and the Citizens Service Association were some of them. This last group adapted the name, the John Howard Society during the 1940's. Services provided during that time included Voluntary Services to discharged prisoners, food, shelter, clothing and jobs. These services expanded to include, counselling, help with family adjustment and release planning.
There are currently 19 John Howard Societies including three chapters run by inmates of Millhaven, Joyceville and Warkworth Federal Correctional Institutions. Each John Howard Society offers a variety of different types of programming dependent on the make up of their own community.