Annapolis Valley Quaker Meeting hosted a full-day free workshop on Penal Abolition. Quakers Fostering Justice (QFJ), a branch of Canadian Friends Service Committee, offered this workshop across Canada.
Why is our criminal justice system based on punishment?
Why do we harm people when we could be healing them?
“Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.” – Cornel West
What is Penal Abolition?
Penal abolition seeks to shift from punishment to justice that is restorative, transformative and healing – for victims, perpetrators, and society. It is not only about prisons; penal abolition seeks to eliminate the punitive mindset which pervades all of society, by transforming harmful approaches to ones that are healing.
Read more in QFJ’s flier From Harm to Healing: Transforming the Justice System
How Does This Relate to Nova Scotia?
To learn more about conditions for those incarcerated in Nova Scotia, here are some resources. Please note that these describe experiences of violence and abuse.
Solitary confinement, costs of phone calls, and effects on mental health (El Jones, Halifax Examiner)
Rights don’t stop at prison walls (Anne Farries, The Guardian)
- Use videos, discussions, and small-group exercises to learn about QFJ’s work on penal abolition
- Explore alternatives to punishment
- Learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action for justice work
- Connect local people and organizations concerned about the need for change.
- Map our path to doing justice to ourselves, to faith-based and broader communities, and to our world.
You can read about a similar workshop that QFJ recently offered in Calgary.
- Define penal abolition
- Survey what’s happening in the justice system right now, and what’s working and not working
- Summarize the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and their impact on justice work
- Learn about alternatives to punishment
- Consider justice in our relationship with ourselves, our Quaker community, and beyond
Dick Cotterill is a member of Halifax Monthly Meeting and Quakers Fostering Justice. He also sits on the board of the Church Council on Justice and Corrections, is a member of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association, and volunteers in Truro with the John Howard Society.
David Summerhays is the clerk of Quakers Fostering Justice. He is a member of Montreal Monthly Meeting, and has participated in Circles of Support and Accountability’s restorative justice program for 5 years.