Penal Abolition


The use of imprisonment as a main response to a wide variety of offences against the law is not a tenable approach in practical terms.

~ David Daubney
(from a parliamentary standing committee’s review of Canada’s corrections system)

CFSC’s criminal justice work arises from a vision of penal abolition – seeking to eliminate the punitive mindset that pervades society and justice systems. Changing this mindset means transforming harmful approaches to ones that are healing. The term “penal” originates from the Latin and Greek words for punishment, and to “punish” is to cause suffering. It is the suffering inherent in the justice system that Quakers wish to abolish − for victims, perpetrators, institutional staff, families and communities.

penal abolition means getting beyond a punitive mindset and thinking about how to most effectively prevent, repair and move beyond harm

Education and outreach to Quakers


Promoting and supporting alternatives

  • Parole, Rehabilitation and Community Safety – a double-sided flyer explaining key issues (PDF)
  • The No On Prison Expansion (NOPE) initiative endorsed by CFSC
  • A 2015 Church Council on Justice and Corrections panel discussion on Victim Impact Programs in prisons:

  • Restorative Justice Youth Infographic (PDF)
    This describes the steps in the journey of a young offender through the criminal justice system. It briefly notes the points at which the youth could be put into a restorative justice system, and the some of the tangible benefits of restorative (as opposed to punitive) justice, including expense and the reduced rate of reoffending. It includes helpful statistics and sources.

    The infographic came to us from one of our partners, the Canadian Families and Corrections Network (CFCN). It was produced by CFCN together with the University of Guelph Research Shop and Family Counseling and Support Services of Guelph Wellington.

  • Restorative Justice Policy Paper Expanding the use of Restorative Justice: Exploring innovations and best practice (PDF)
    This living document is intended to describe the current status of Restorative Justice programs in Canada and around the world. It includes a brief history on the development of restorative justice practices and describes how and where they have been adopted into common use. It describes research and legislation relating to restorative justice, and includes recommendations and discussion questions.

    This paper was produced by the Church Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC), together with the Canadian Families and Corrections Network (CFCN). CFSC is a member of CCJC, an ecumenical organisation that addresses justice issues, and we partner with CFCN on justice-related work. The paper was presented to Public Safety Canada in 2016. The cover image on the roots of restorative justice was created by Sarah Chandler, former clerk of QFJ.


Justice should be compassionate, forgiving and healing – restorative, not retributive. We want to change attitudes and encourage the criminal justice system to move towards this vision of justice.

~ Quaker Peace and Social Witness, Crime, Community, and Justice Sub-Committee, July 2009