Community Matters June 2023
Note: This is excerpted from the June 2023 edition of our Community Matters publication.
Welcome to the Summer Edition of our quarterly publication, Community Matters.
Community Matters aims to inform the community about social issues that impact citizens and connect the dots between social issues, evidence, and policy. We aim to use this space to give local agencies, ESPC volunteer writers, and staff members a voice.
Each edition will spotlight a specific social issue and demonstrate the intersectional nature and impact on equality. Our goal is to use evidence as we continue to inform on the issues affecting individuals and families.
For our Summer 2023 issue, we are focusing on Justice. The justice system was an institution designed to bring about law and order in ways that have benefited white male property holders at the expense of almost everyone else; as a result, the way justice is wielded has shortcomings in matters of equity. For example, while Indigenous Peoples make up roughly 5% of the Canadian population, Indigenous people represented 32% of those in federal prisons in 2020-21. This disparity is a product of a colonial system that has harmed Indigenous Peoples for generations and continues to the present day, which the justice system has played a role in upholding.
While criminal laws are passed and enforced to address violence or disorder, they have also contributed to the further marginalization of various equity-seeking groups, particularly those who live in poverty and low income. One negative interaction with the justice system can further entrap someone already stuck in the cycle of poverty.
This issue seeks to critically examine the myriad ways the justice system affects many marginalized populations and how the situation can be ameliorated. Not all laws and the way they are enforced guarantee justice for all. In fact, many laws create injustice when they go against the public interest. Reforms will be needed in order to ensure a system that is truly just and equitable.
Whether that is looking at our current drug policies, the reporting of hate crimes, incarcerated person’s access to health care, or the negative impacts our current laws have on sex workers, we hope the articles inside will elevate the conversation.
– Susan Morrissey, Executive Director