Criminal Justice

Quaker penal abolition workshops are a form of education & outreach

Penal abolition workshop, Toronto


CFSC (Quakers) Criminal Justice WorkThe worldwide community of Quakers has worked on concerns related to criminal justice for over 350 years. These stem originally from experiences in the seventeenth century of being imprisoned for our beliefs.





Our work and beliefs about criminal justice

Seeking the Truth by Leah Dockrill, featured in Understory Magazine Issue 8: Women and Justice, supported by a CFSC grant.

Canadian Quakers believe that justice must be compassionate and focus on how to heal rather than how to punish. This is what’s called “penal abolition” (PDF)—working to put an end to punishment and harm throughout the criminal justice system. This is the ground from which our methods, processes, and partnerships emerge.

CFSC works toward discerning, developing, and encouraging responses that actively prevent harm, repair harm, and move beyond harm in relation to the justice system. We do this in ways that balance the needs of all parties and are concerned for society as a whole. We actively promote alternatives to prison and encourage the use of restorative and rehabilitative practices.

We take action in the following ways:

  • Public education through workshops, resources, and facilitating dialogues;
  • Policy influencing through consultations and engagement at the Canadian and international levels;
  • Providing small community grants and supporting local grassroots organisations;
  • Researching and monitoring of key issues; and
  • Working in partnership with justice networks and organisations to clarify, strategise about, and act on our beliefs.

Currently, CFSC has two priorities in the criminal justice system: the impacts on children and youth when their parents are incarcerated, and the benefits of Restorative Justice and alternatives to prisons. CFSC also does work outside our priority areas as appropriate and necessary.

Learn more about our specific areas of work