About Us

The National Associations Active in Criminal Justice (NAACJ) was founded in 1975 by champions of national community-based agencies in order to provide a forum for members to share and generate information, ideas, expertise, values and support.

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By serving as a mechanism to connect member organizations with federal government, NAACJ also brings together Canada's criminal justice community.

Today, the members continue to view NAACJ as a valuable means to provide support, promote dialogue and bolster its members' ability to serve as catalysts for change within criminal and social justice. Currently comprised of 19 member organizations representing fields of expertise such as non-violent conflict resolution, transitional housing, law, research, advocacy, policy, training, counselling and restorative justice, NAACJ includes a diverse group of well-established organizations and directors that span hundreds of communities across Canada.

History of NAACJ

In 1969, the Ouimet Commission on Corrections,Toward Unity: Criminal Justice and Corrections, called for a rehabilitative, not punitive, approach to corrections in Canada. Not too long thereafter, the Sauvé Report of the Task Force on the Role of the Private Sector in Criminal Justice, “Community involvement in criminal justice” published in 1977 further recommended the increased role of citizen involvement and formalized organizations within criminal justice and corrections across federal, provincial and territorial jurisdictions. Under this backdrop, the Executive Director of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association (CCJA), William (Bill) T. McGrath, led the development of an “experiment” in 1975 that would bring together private sector agencies working in social justice and corrections to share information and provide support.

Under the auspices of CCJA, Mr. McGrath, who was aptly deemed the “Godfather of criminal justice interest groups” in Canada, co-ordinated what would become the NAACJ network: the National Associations Active in Criminal Justice. Now, approximately 50 years later, many of the following 21 founding agencies remain a member of the Association, although they may operate under a different name:

Association of Social Rehabilitation Agencies
Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police Inc.
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
Canadian Association of Professional Criminologists
Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges
Canadian Association of Social Workers
Canadian Correctional Chaplains’ Association
Canadian Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges
Canadian Council on Social Development
Canadian Criminology and Corrections Association
Canadian Foundation on Alcohol and Drug Dependencies
Canadian Mental Health Association
Canadian Section, International Association of Penal Law
Canadian Psychiatric Association
Canadian Psychological Association
Church Council on Justice and Corrections
John Howard Society of Canada
National Association of Friendship Centres
National Institute on Mental Retardation
St. Leonard’s Society of Canada
The Salvation Army

NAACJ was born. Other “visionaries and reformers” involved at the time included Bonnie Diamond, Pat Graham, Hans Mohr, Ken Hatt, Lucien Morin, Dr. Reverend David McCord, Brian Crane and Frank Miller. With instrumental support from community builder and mediator Dr. Ben Hoffman, and then Executive Director of the John Howard Society of Canada Jim McLatchie, NAACJ grew in members, partners and autonomy over the 1980s, thanks in part to the inception of the Solicitor General for Canada’s sustaining funding grant for NVOs.

In 1990, NAACJ published a discussion paper Making Justice Real: A Socially Responsible Approach to Justice, which explored the philosophical elements of a social responsibility approach to justice; the principles of criminal justice; and, proposed guidelines for practice, all in an effort to stimulate more just and effective measures. This socially responsible approach to criminal justice inspired a vision for NAACJ for many years to come.

In 2000, then President of NAACJ and Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) Kim Pate led NAACJ’s incorporation by Letters Patent as a not-for-profit (NFP) corporation. By 2004, NAACJ’s membership policy articulated membership criteria for member organizations based on the federal government’s Voluntary Sector Accord (2001). Later in 2013, owing in part to the new Canada Corporations Act, then President Allen Benson led the continuance NAACJ as a federal NFP corporation.

Mission and Objectives

The mission of the National Associations Active in Criminal Justice (NAACJ) is to enhance the capacity of member organizations to contribute to a just, fair, equitable and effective justice system. Its objects are to:

  • Contribute to the education of its member organizations, other organizations from the governmental and voluntary sector and the general public through activities that share and generate knowledge, information, ideas and values, in relation to current and emerging criminal justice issues.
  • Contribute to the capacity of the member organizations to carry out their purposes through activities that share and generate expertise and to serve as a catalyst for action by member agencies and to provide collective support for actions undertaken by individual member agencies where feasible.
  • Support the activities of its member organizations in the development of policy related to criminal justice by promoting the role and importance of the member organizations in consultation and policy forms with the federal government.

What we do


NAACJ achieves its mandate by:

  • Serving, supporting and promoting the member organizations;
  • Developing conferences, workshops and events about current and emerging criminal justice issues;
  • Providing information and research that contributes to community and member education;
  • Preparing fact sheets, backgrounders, briefs and summaries on criminal justice issues;
  • Liaising with the criminal and social justice community, including federal government partners;
  • Coordinating, facilitating and supporting federal submissions and conferences; and
  • Sharing and disseminating timely information and knowledge generally.

How We Engage

Formal and informal engagement opportunities with partners are central to our role. These traditions not only embody the collaboration and communication within the Accord Between the Government of Canada and the Voluntary Sector, but also provide a valuable opportunity to maintain links across sectors and fields.

The annual Joint Policy Workshops co-hosted by NAACJ, Public Safety Canada and the Department of Justice have been an annual tradition for many years. Representatives from across sectors, jurisdictions and disciplines come together to share information and discuss emerging issues in Canadian criminal justice, in order to increase our individual and collective capacity to provide increasingly effective policy and service.

Over the years, the annual conference has explored these topics:

  • Crime Prevention and the Young Offenders Act
  • Engaging the Community in Criminal Justice and Corrections
  • Decarceration: A Progress Report
  • Examining Sentencing Trends: Deterrence, Denunciation, Discretion
  • The Implications of Recognizing FAS/FAE as a Human Rights Issue
  • Advancing Social Inclusion: The Implications for Criminal Law Policy, Policy and Litigation
  • Human Rights of People with Mental Disabilities and the Criminal Justice System
  • Balancing Human Rights and National Security
  • Crime Prevention for At-Risk Youth
  • Moving Forward with Aboriginal Justice: Opportunities and Challenges
  • Mental Health and Canada's Justice System: Connecting the Dots
  • Community Empowerment through Social Enterprise
  • Substance Abuse Solutions: Promising Practices to Address the Needs of People with Substance Abuse Issues in the Criminal Justice System

NAACJ and its members have also held regular meetings with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) since 1998. Semi-annual meetings among NAACJ, its members and CSC officials, as well as partners from the Parole Board of Canada (PBC) and more recently Public Safety Canada (PS) promote information sharing, communication and collaboration around corrections and community corrections across our sectors.

Our partnership with CSC also allows NAACJ to participate in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)/Correctional Service of Canada (CSC)/Parole Board of Canada (PBC) Public Safety (PS) Joint Committee on Community Corrections as well as the NAACJ/CSC Joint Community Corrections Working Group (JCCWG).

In 2012, NAACJ and CSC reaffirmed their willingness to continue to work together to enhance services in Canada by renewing the Terms of Reference including our Principles of Collaboration.  In 2009, this Protocol for Partnership was ratified by the NAACJ/CSC Joint Community Corrections Working Group, and later in 2011, we developed a joint work plan to guide our activities to 2013. 


NAACJ's Executive Director was appointed to the National Selection Committee for the Office of the Correctional Investigator for Canada's Ed McIsaac Human Rights in Corrections Award in 2009. The Award was created in 2008 to commemorate the work and dedication of those who have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to improving corrections and and protecting the human rights of the incarcerated. Recipients include:

Strategic Priorities

In 2010, NAACJ engaged professional consultants One World Inc. to develop a Strategic Review process in order to clarify the Association's role and strengthen its capacity. With Public Safety Canada's support, NAACJ was able to engage its members and partners to determine its directions to 2014:

Statement of Possibility

NAACJ is an organization that exists to support its membership of diverse and experienced national organizations in their respective efforts to provide leadership in various areas of justice.

NAACJ promotes an environment that encourages its members to share their values, to respect one another's differences and to develop their capacity to be engaged with and respected by government agencies, funding bodies and the Canadian public.

NAACJ enables and supports the efforts of members to learn, energize and gain strength through meaningful dialogue with each other and with others in the criminal and social justice fields.

By doing so,NAACJ bolsters its members' ability to serve as catalysts for change relating to their missions of effective justice responses that uphold and promote human rights.

Strategic Areas

Enhance Public Profile

A well-regarded public profile allows NAACJ members to serve as catalysts for change. Through dialogue and communication with government agencies, funding bodies and the Canadian public, NAACJ increases the capacity of member organizations. By sharing policy information and research, NAACJ and its members maximize their impact. NAACJ strengthens its profile by promoting its values and work and by enhancing relationships with stakeholders and members.

Key Objective:
Enhance the public profile of NAACJ and its members.

Engage Members

Dialogue-based relationships of members are the cornerstone of NAACJ. By sharing experiences and ideas, each member increases organizational capacity by bringing information back to their organization from the NAACJ table. Utilizing a variety of communications strategies and tools, NAACJ engages, fosters and empowers its members' ability to reach their goals and promote change towards a just, fair, equitable and effective justice system.

Key Objective:
Increase members' involvement and streamline communication to maximize effectiveness.

Develop Priorities and Action Plan

Clearly defined and agreed upon common priorities are essential for action planning. These priorities, within social and criminal justice systems, enhance each member's ability to speak from their own organizational experience and expertise. The NAACJ's key concern is to determine what its members and government partners can do together. NAACJ can develop priorities to be clear and effective in supporting members and informing social policy. Developing common priorities enables NAACJ and its members to move forward with clarity, commitment and purpose.

Key Objective:
Support members' ability to collaborate on issues of key importance.

In & around the NAACJ
  • Read the Church Council on Justice and Corrections' e-newsletter, The Well, by clicking here. In it you will find ongoing dialogue on the issues of general concern regarding our justice system, research and activities of CCJC and updates on the evolving issues of restorative justice.
    The Church Council on Justice and Corrections has an interactive Restorative Justice Quilt that is available to groups for touring. Each square when touched activates the story of the victim or offender who created it. It can be a meaningful addition for your events.
  • Victims Pastoral Care is of great concern for CCJC and we hold a victims centered event each year meant to promote healing, celebrate resilience, and provide a forum where victims can be heard.
  • CoSA (Circles of Support and Accountability) is a program CCJC supports in its work with high risk offenders reentering the community. Surrounded by Circles of volunteer support for guidance, social connection and accountability, this program's success is evident with research results indicating that recidivism is 80% less if individuals have the availability of these groups when they leave incarceration.
  • Working Together for Canadian Justice: The Showcase Site is a a web-based forum to improve communications about criminal justice issues. The on-line community allows organizations concerned about and contributing to the development of criminal justice policy in Canada to maintain close contact regarding a variety of pertinent issues.
  • The Collaborative Justice Program (CJP) was established to assist youth offenders and those affected by crime through a restorative justice option. CJP staff facilitate direct or indirect communication between the accused, their parent(s), the victim(s), and community members. The CJP recently launched into independent status after 10 years of its creation by the Church Council on Justice and Corrections.
  • Looking to volunteer? NAACJ has opportunities and suggestions. Check out our online application form or contact us for more information!
  • The Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) website provides information on our work and history. Check it out at quakerservice.ca!
    CFSC offers community based grants to those doing justice work related to our Quaker mandate. Information and applications can be found here.
  • John Howard Society celebrating: The John Howard Society of Canada celebrates its 50th year of service in 2012 and The John Howard Society of Ottawa celebrates its 60th Anniversary this year as well.
  • Read about the Mennonite Central Committee Canada's work in Ontario to promote Restorative Justice at http://ontario.mcc.org/restorative.
  • Learn about Restorative Justice Ministries through the Alberta Mennonite Central Committee of Canada here http://alberta.mcc.org/programs/rjm. The Mennonite Central Committee of Canada offers information, resources and stories about Restorative Justice here http://ottawa.mcc.org/whatwedo/restorative-justice.
  • In August 2011, the Canadian Bar Association passed several resolutions urging federal, provincial and territorial governments action on these issues, among others (PDF files):
    - Action to End Homophobic and Transphobic Bullying
    - Mentally Ill Persons in the Criminal Justice System
    - Justice in Sentencing
    - Response to Elder Abuse
    - Justice Resources
    - Preserving Special Consideration for Aboriginal Persons in the Criminal Justice System
  • Since 1989, ASRSQ has produced a bulletin, Porte ouverte which can be found here (french content) and also has some english articles
  • In collaboration with community-based employment and employability organizations active in Québec, ASRSQ set up a website providing relevant information regarding the impacts of criminal records, which is available here www.casierjudiciaire.ca.
  • Did you know? L'Association des services de réhabilitation sociale du Québec (ASRSQ) provides training for staff and volunteers of its member organizations each year. Over 25 training sessions are held each year involving over 100 staff or volunteers.
  • The Seventh Step Society of Canada received a small grant from Public Safety Canada's Policy Development Contribution Program to recruit, train and develop volunteers in the Pacific Region to deliver the 7th Step Program, in the community and in the institutions.  The Society is getting started in the Abbotsford region with hopes to expand to the greater Vancouver area.  There is one active 7th Step self-help group going in to Matsqui Institution at present. Check out the new Seventh Step Society of Canada website: www.7thstep.ca
  • Learn about the St. Leonard's Society of Canada at www.stleonards.ca or browse their newsletter, Community Connections.
  • As the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in Canada, The Salvation Army provides unprecedented support to society's most vulnerable. With the public's generosity, in 2010 in Canada:
    - The Salvation Army provided 6,350 shelter, addictions, detox and mental health beds for vulnerable men, women and families in Canada.
    - The Salvation Army served 2.7 million meals.
    - The Salvation Army assisted 1,152,700 persons with food, clothing or practical assistance.
  • Read the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies fact sheets about:
    - Aboriginal Women
    - Community Options Required
    - Criminalized & Imprisoned Women
    - Deaths in Custody
    - Health & Mental Health
    - Human and Fiscal Costs of Prison
    - Issues Associated with Increased Criminalization of Women
    - Long Term Effects of Abuse and Trauma
    - Mandatory Minimum Sentences - A Solution Looking for a Problem
    - Mothers in Prison
    - Poverty
    - Violence Against Women and Children
    - Young Women
  • The Canadian Criminal Justice Association publishes contents and some abstracts online from the Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice at http://www.ccja-acjp.ca/en/cjc.html.
  • The Canadian Families and Corrections Network has made this resource available online for family-victims: One Step at a Time - Reshaping life following crime within the family.
    CFCN’s 2007 research paper Incarcerated fathers: A descriptive analysis studied a sample of incarcerated fathers in Canadian federal correctional institutions. The research data indicated that “children of federally sentenced fathers are 2 to 4 times more likely to be in conflict with the law than Canadian children in general.”
  • The Canadian Training Institute provides more than just training! CTI has published numerous training manuals including:
    - A Primer on Residential Services: From a Criminal Justice Perspective,
    - A Primer on Community Corrections and Criminal Justice Work in Canada,
    - Youth Justice In Canada: A Resource Manual,
    - A Literature Review on Youth Violence: From Risk to Resiliency utilizing a Developmental Perspective,
    - An Annotated Bibliography of Residential Facility Siting Studies, and
    - A Community Impact Study: the effect of locating Community Correctional Residences on property values, on crime rates and public attitudes.
  • Check outCorrections and Conditional Release in Canada - A General Primer (2010)
  • Kim Pate (center) receives the Office of the Correctional Investigator's Ed McIsaac Human Rights in Corrections Award(2011) from Howard Sapers (right) and Ed McIsaac.
  • NAACJ's Strategic Success Process : With the generous support of Public Safety Canada, NAACJ was able to engage professional consultants from One World Inc., Tim Fleming and Sybil Frei, to help design, develop, facilitate and implement an energizing strategic review process aimed at clarifying our roles and improving relationships.
    Based on the SOAR approach (strengths, opportunities, aspirations and results), the process included face-to-face engagement sessions, a partnership workshop, teleconferences, advisory group meetings as well as both internal and external interviews with NAACJ members, staff and key partners.
    Members developed a vision statement and identified three priority areas, which will serve to guide our operations to 2014.
    Wrapping up at the end of 2010-2011, the process and plan identifies initiatives to raise awareness about NAACJ and its member organizations on a regular basis. We look forward to working more effectively on matters of mutual concern with our partners in order to improve our contributions to criminal and social justice across sectors.
    Read more about our Strategic Directions here.
  • Community Empowerment through Social Enterprise : The annual joint policy workshop with the Departments of Public Safety and Justice in February 2011 was another resounding success. Community Empowerment through Social Enterprise brought together leading national experts like David LePage with international keynote speaker from the Safer Foundation, Diane Williams. Said to be the most successful joint NAACJ/PS/DOJ event in recent memory, it was reported to be responsible for encouraging the development of 12 social enterprise projects among communities and Public Safety Canada. Read the report here.
  • It is the 20th Anniversary of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act in 2012. The CCRA was proclaimed into force on November 1, 1992.
  • Click here to download CCJC's 2011 CoSA Gathering Report.
  • Families and Corrections Journal Vol 15 No 1 (Spring 2012)'s is a must-read (PDF file). It includes a research report Family-based reintegration, as well as two articles: Volunteers and the circle of support, and Face to face with intergenerational crime.
  • While the emphasis of each group's work may be different, NAACJ has developed an overarching vision of a socially responsible approach to justice that values research as the basis for sound social policy and supports equality and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
    NAACJ enables and supports members to learn, energize and gain strength through meaningful dialogue with each other and with others in the criminal and social justice field. By doing so, NAACJ bolsters its members' ability to serve as catalysts for change relating to their missions of effective justice responses that uphold and promote human rights.
    NAACJ's strength lies both in its diversity and its unity.
  • Commissioner of Corrections Don Head (left) meets with NAACJ members at the Annual General Meeting in Cornwall, ON, September 2011.
  • Patrick Altimas, ASRSQ, and Elizabeth White, SLSC
  • Allen Benson, NCSA, and Mary Campbell, Public Safety Canada
  • ON APRIL 11, 2012 THE AWARD WINNING, INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED SERVICE KNOWN AS LIFELINE, PROVIDING IN-REACH PROGRAMMING TO LIFE SENTENCED PRISONERS, WAS CUT BY GOVERNMENT. For more than 20 years, life sentenced men and women who have proven their ability to reintegrate successfully have offered support, friendship and counselling to men and women serving long term and life sentences. They have offered hope ...that there can be "life after Life".
    This is a huge loss to effective corrections, and the cuts will affect many hard working and dedicated staff who have committed their time to helping some of the most vulnerable people within Canada's federal institutions. The St. Leonard's Society of Canada will continue to bring updates on how we can continue to serve those in need and how we might move forward with the spirit of LifeLine.
  • The Restorative Justice Division of the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) is  accepting nominations until July 12 2012 for the 2012 National Ron Wiebe Restorative Justice AwardThe award is open to all Canadians who model restorative justice principles in the service of justice and peace.  Please feel free to share this Call for Nominations to criminal or social justice agencies, faith groups, schools, local neighbourhood coalitions, and other communities in your network.
  • Congratulations to NAACJ member Kim Pate, who received an Honourary Doctorate from the University of Ottawa on June 3 2012.
  • The Mental Health Commission of Canada made history on May 8 2012 with the official launch of the first-ever Mental Health Strategy for Canada, a blueprint for improving the mental health system. Learn more here.
  • The choir at Pittsburgh Institution near Kingston Ontario recently recorded a song with local music producer Chris Brown, to encourage donations to the Kingston Community Songbook project. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) interviewed Chris Brown on the radio program As it Happens on June 7 2012.   Listen to the last 15 minutes of part 3 "KINGSTON PRISON MUSIC" here: http://www.cbc.ca/asithappens/