The Church Council on Justice and Corrections is a national faith-based coalition of eleven founding churches incorporated in 1972. We promote community responsibility for justice with an emphasis on addressing the needs of victims and offenders, mutual respect, healing, individual accountability, and crime prevention. It is primarily by education and community development initiatives that we foster healthier communities and crime prevention through social responsibility. CCJC has demonstrated in publications, pilot projects and numerous other initiatives how to strengthen community through its understanding that real justice requires the pursuit of wholeness for all. We work with both multi-faith and non-religious partners and have achieved international recognition for our contributions to creative thinking about criminal justice.
During the 1970s we widely distributed the ‘Alternatives Kit: A Programme of Community Involvement’, to over 14,000 congregations. This kit promoted community education and involvement, primarily designed to increase awareness and understanding about some problems with our criminal justice system and possible solutions. CCJC played a major role in the campaign against the death penalty in Canada.
In the 1980’s, CCJC played a leadership role, along with the National Associations Active in Criminal Justice, in hosting a major conference about reconciliation as a principle of justice and producing an educational video titled “Reconciliation: Experiencing Justice”. We provided communities with resources on different issues, including publications such as ‘Dialogue on Crime and Punishment’ and ‘Dialogue on Crime Prevention, Focus on Youth’, the kits “Family Violence in a Patriarchal Culture” and “Fire in the Rose”.
During the 1990’s, we continued to contribute to policy making by participating in consultations on various criminal justice issues. It was during this decade that CCJC implemented the pilot Collaborative Justice Program, which is now recognized for pioneering restorative responses to serious crime. We also published “Personal Empowerment for Stronger Relationships” and “Satisfying Justice”.
During the early 2000’s we continued to fulfill our mission and to search for creative ways to reach out to the public, encouraging community involvement in matters of public safety. We created the position “Community Chair of Justice” to foster a new public conversation about what justice is. Staffed by Lorraine Berzins, this initiative included emphasizing art as a means to communicate with the public. We sponsored the production of the theatrical play “Crime on Broadway”, created the “Justice Storytelling Quilt” and initiated the project “Arts’ Tools For Justice”. In addition, we sponsored various forums and continued to participate in consultations, as well as reforms to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
In a 2008 CCJC became involved in a five year National Demonstration Project for Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA), seeking to promote this program that is based on restorative justice principles. The project was funded by the National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC), and the resulting evaluation provided a valuable addition to the growing body of international research on CoSA programs. The full report is now available here.