About Us

Who we are

We are a non-partisan network of volunteers from different sectors, walks of life and communities across Canada who are working together to promote responsible, fair, humane, efficient and financially smart ways of responding to criminal and social justice challenges.

We began our work in June 2011 as the Smart Justice Network, the initiative of an informal Chairing Group which then widened through the Arnprior Justice Retreat held in June 2012. This is our story.

In June 2013, we became a federal not-for-profit corporation, the Smart Justice Network of Canada (SJNC).

Our purpose
  • Promote discussion of how to deal with crime in ways that are based on what really works to foster crime prevention, social justice and reduced risks of repeat criminal behaviour
  • Explore the connections between crime and health, employment, housing, poverty, education, addictions, and mental health, to promote interventions that have an impact on community safety and crime prevention
  • Incease collaboration between the criminal justice system and other sectors in interventions proven successful as safe and effective responses to criminal behaviour
  • Encourage the adoption of new approaches within and outside of government, and create partnerships that effectively respond to our challenges by rebuilding lives, families and communities that are safer and healthier.
The Smart Justice approach

Smart Justice is based on the knowledge and experience that the best responses to criminal and social justice issues are those proven to:

  • provide support,
  • increase safety,
  • encourage personal responsibility and
  • heal a variety of harms.

Smart justice does not waste resources on responses known to be ineffective or unnecessary.  It seeks constructive outcomes that rebuild lives and communities.

Smart justice is committed to building meaningful local partnerships to foster the development of healthy individuals, families and neighbourhoods and engage them in taking responsibility for safety and health in their communities.

Programs and policies that respond to the uniqueness, strengths and values of our communities will contribute to the courage we need to do the hard work of living together in communities and to look beyond our current legal approaches for ways to reduce harm and increase safety and community health.

The beliefs that guide our work
  • The best responses to harm recognize that effective solutions are generally not simple ones and often require comprehensive attention to the unmet social, health and economic needs of each person affected.
  • These responses are built on partnerships across different organizations, sectors and systems. The justice system alone cannot respond effectively to the diverse types of harm that people and communities experience.
  • Strong relationships create strong communities based on shared respect, courage and responsibilities.
  • We cannot prosecute our way to safer communities. We must look beyond our over-reliance on legal solutions.
Our goals
  • Promote dialogues that involve all sectors of communities to identify the shared values, goals and common ground needed to collectively build responses that work.
  • Encourage discussion about how to deal with crime and other forms of harm in ways that have been proven effective in reducing and preventing harm.
  • Reduce dependency on the justice system as the primary response to harms and fears that require multi-dimensional, community-based approaches.
  • Explore the connections between criminal and social justice issues stemming from health, employment, housing, poverty, education, addictions and mental health, to promote interventions that have a constructive impact on community safety and crime prevention.
  • Increase collaboration among all government and community agencies addressing the underlying causes of crime and harm in ways that involve these agencies, businesses, community programs and people living in these communities.
  • Inspire reliance on innovative approaches within and outside of government that improve prevention, rehabilitation and the use of public funds.
  • Learn more about and promote cost effective ways to increase safety, reduce harm and build communities.
 Our work
  • Provide reliable information describing
    • current criminal and social justice challenges in communities and across Canada;
    • smart justice practices creating effective alternatives;
    • how individual communities can imagine alternatives they might adapt to fit their community challenges.
  • Stimulate community conversations about crime and justice.
  • Promote local and national symposiums to bring together people experienced in diverse fields related to social and criminal justice in order to explore practical measures to advance smart justice responses and collaborative partnerships.
  • Create a speakers bureau that helps promote discussion around Smart Justice in, between and among communities and agencies across Canada.
  • Identify successful Smart Justice initiatives taking place across Canada and in other countries.
  • Connect communities ready for change to other communities that have incorporated Smart Justice partnerships and practices.
  • Monitor legislation related to crime, conflict, social justice issues and public safety to inform and encourage enlightened public discussion that can influence the shaping of public policy and legislation to promote responsible laws and policies that work in building safe communities.
We value

Approaches to criminal and social justice that are grounded in good research

  • Policies that are effective, just and humane and that respond to the needs of individuals and communities
  • Clear, accessible information on the economic, social and personal costs of crime and on what works to reduce these costs
  • Stories …
    • Sharing personal experiences that teach us of the challenges individuals, families, communities and agencies face in responding to criminal and social justice issues;
    • Sharing innovative ways that successfully address causes of these issues;
    • Illustrating how to achieve healing, accountability, responsibility, rehabilitation and public safety;
    • Describing successful community partnerships;
    • Revealing how professionals regained their initial constructive motivations to enter their profession through partnering with others to change the outcomes of their work;
    • Showing how citizens made a difference in their lives, in their families and communities by getting involved. Each of us CAN make a difference!
  • Rebuilding the skills and processes for participatory democracy so that individuals in communities across Canada can share in making the hard decisions that forge healthy connections within our communities.

Download the document SJNC brochure.

Contact us at speakers@smartjusticenetwork.ca to find a speaker for an interview or event!