Fonds RBSC-ARC-1291 - John Howard Society of British Columbia, Nanaimo Area Council fonds

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Title proper

John Howard Society of British Columbia, Nanaimo Area Council fonds

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  • Textual record

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.

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Fonds

Reference code

RBSC-ARC-1291

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Physical description

64 cm of textual records

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Administrative history

The John Howard Society of British Columbia was initially established in Vancouver in 1929 and incorporated in 1932, becoming the first John Howard Society in Canada. The objects of the Society as outlined in its constitution were: to seek to remove conditions which lead persons into crime; to befriend the first offender; to work for the wise and just treatment of those confirmed to penal institutions; to guide and help the mothers, wives and children of men in prison; to help discharged and paroled men and women to re-establish themselves; and to work for wise and just legislation with reference to court procedures and penal administration. The John Howard Society of Canada was later established in 1962. In 1983, the John Howard Society of British Columbia moved its head office to Victoria to act as an umbrella organization for the various independent John Howard Societies operating throughout British Columbia, including the John Howard Society of British Columbia, Nanaimo Area Council.

Over their histories, regional John Howard Societies in British Columbia have aimed their services towards delivering programs and services for people impacted by the criminal justice system, as well as those facing multiple barriers such as homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse, developmental disabilities, and mental health disabilities. Programs and services have provided assistance with housing, education, employment, and other community-based needs. Regional societies have also been involved in services and advocacy to encourage alternatives to the social justice system, including parole, probation, bail supervision, and community assessments. The John Howard Society, Nanaimo Area Council specialized in local programs including addiction treatment, restorative practice, community reintegration, employment, and community health and wellbeing.

In September 2022, the John Howard Society, Nanaimo Area Council partnered with Connective and changed its name to Connective Support Society, Nanaimo. In its September 7, 2022 press release, the organization explained the change as a response to a need for unified programming serving the needs of marginalized people experiencing homelessness, addiction, and justice system involvement.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of the John Howard Society of British Columbia, Nanaimo Area Council’s records of the Mid-Island Diversion Programme. Founded in 1975, the Mid-Island Diversion Programme formulated its aims and operations upon John Hogarth’s Sentencing as a Human Process (1971) and the Law Reform Commission of Canada’s Working Paper No. 7 on diversion (1975). The programme was founded with the following objectives: providing a community-based diversion program as an alternative to the criminal justice system for individuals who committed minor offenses; shifting the responsibility of addressing such offenses from the government to the community; modifying the attitude of the public towards these offenders and towards the criminal justice system; and working towards the decriminalization of certain minor offenses. The programme was overseen by the Nanaimo Area Council Diversion Programme Support Committee with representatives from the Crown Counsel, RCMP, probation officers, John Howard Society members, and interested community members. Within its first few years, the programme expanded from Nanaimo to also include communities in Cowichan, Duncan, Ladysmith, and Parksville. The programme seems to have continued until around 2019, at which point the John Howard Society, Nanaimo Area Council directed its resources towards other restorative justice efforts.

The programme was designed for adult offenders with no more than two prior convictions who had been accused of the following types of offenses, among others: theft under $200, possession of stolen property under $200, assault, causing a disturbance, possession of marijuana, willful damage, and possession of a prohibited weapon. Adults accused of other types of offenses could be accepted or rejected from the programme based on their previous criminal record, social background, and community presence. Acceptance into the programme required a referral from the Crown Counsel, approval from the RCMP investigating officer and victim, and voluntary participation on the part of the alleged offender. Participation in the programme required the alleged offender’s stated intention to take responsibility for their actions, but did not count as a legal admission of guilt. After acceptance into the programme, the client would formulate a diversion plan with a diversion counsellor. The diversion plan generally required the client to complete the following tasks over a three-month period: community work at a non-profit organization; a letter of appreciation to the RCMP Investigating Officer for referral to the programme; a letter of apology to the victim; if relevant, paid restitution for damages; and meetings with a diversion counsellor weekly or every other week. Upon the programme’s completion, the diversion counsellor submitted a final report to inform the Crown, RCMP, and victim.

Fonds documents the administration and operations of the Mid-Island Diversion Programme, and includes statistical reports, procedural manuals, correspondence, case files, rejection files, and other material.

Fonds is arranged into two series: Administration; and Case files.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

Fonds was donated directly to The UBC Library by the Chairman of the John Howard Society of B.C., Nanaimo Area Council, in 1987.

Arrangement

When processing the fonds in 2024, the archivist maintained the fonds’ previous order.

Language of material

  • English

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Associated materials

Other records relating to the John Howards Society of British Columbia can be found in the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia fonds held at the Simon Fraser University Archives.

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Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

General note

Content Warning: As a programme designed for adult offenders of what were, at the time, designated “minor crimes,” the Mid-Island Diversion Programme created materials detailing alleged offenders’ crimes and personal backgrounds. Although not all records in the fonds centre around emotionally sensitive topics to the same extent or level of detail, some materials contain potentially triggering content. Such material arises from case files and rejection files’ police records, as well as diversion counsellors’ guidance in case files’ and rejection files’ running records. The archivist encountered potentially triggering content on the following topics: alcoholism, animal abuse, drug abuse, domestic abuse, pedophilia, sexual assault, and self-harm. In order to provide a high-level warning, this note is included here to indicate that potentially triggering material may appear throughout the fonds. In addition, the archivist flagged materials she encountered during processing at the file level, although this does not include all content that may be included in this warning. Where content warnings occur, they are noted in the general notes fields at the series and file levels, and are physically labeled on the file folders. Please be aware of these materials and consider creating a plan for self-care in advance of your research visit.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

The fonds was processed, arranged, and re-described by Gabriella J. Cigarroa in Spring 2024.

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