Final report on the review of Canada’s criminal justice system

What we heard: The challenges

By its very nature, the consultation process attracted an array of views. The broad nature of the review nonetheless allowed ample opportunity for consensus to emerge on some key issues. While emphasizing the need for the criminal justice system to hold offenders accountable and to promote public safety, participants pointed to a number of systemic problems:

There continue to be barriers to justice for victims and survivors of crime, who often feel isolated, frustrated and voiceless. Foremost among these barriers are the following:

In summary, the review found widespread recognition that our criminal justice system needs comprehensive reform, including greater flexibility to respond to criminality – and those affected by it – in new and different ways.

In particular, consultation participants were strongly of the view that the criminal justice system should not continue to be used to solve social problems. The issues that lead some people to commit crime would be better addressed through a collaborative, multi-sectoral approach. The most important transformation will ultimately lie in providing the appropriate supports to individuals who don’t belong in the criminal justice system in the first place. Most individuals in the criminal justice system as we know it today need other social supports.

At the same time, we heard very clearly that public safety must maintain a place of paramount importance in the system and offenders must be held accountable for their actions.