Title and statement of responsibility area
John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia fonds
General material designation
- Photographic material
- Textual record
- Records in electronic form (born-digital)
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- Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds.
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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
1922 - 2013 (Creation)
- John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia
Physical description area
21.45 m of textual records
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Archival description area
Name of creator
The John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia (JHSLM) takes its name and its spirit from the 18th century English prison reformer who observed unjust social conditions in prisons, both as a prisoner of war during the Seven Years War, and as High Sheriff of Bedfordshire, a post which included the task of inspecting local prisons. The suffering that John Howard endured and witnessed led him to become a lifelong advocate for criminal and social justice reform. Throughout his life he demonstrated a firm belief that every citizen must ultimately accept his or her individual responsibility for the criminal justice system.
The society began as the John Howard Society of British Columbia, established in Vancouver in 1931. It was the first John Howard Society in Canada. The objects of the Society as outlined in its Constitution (1932) 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 Society has grown so that in 2020 there are over 60 John Howard Societies across Canada with a national office in Ottawa.
Throughout its history, the professional staff of the Society have been responsible for visiting regularly or being on-call to various correctional facilities throughout British Columbia. These include prisons, forest camps, community correctional centres and half-way houses. Staff offer counseling, advocacy, pre-release planning, educational guidance and develop self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and the Seventh Step Society. Staff also assist clients in the courts offering pre-sentence intervention, alternatives to incarceration, and counseling. In addition, family members are supported by the Society in acquiring life skills and attending community development programs.
Today, the JHSLM has expanded its services to assist people with complex needs achieve greater independence and value their positive contributions to society. While the JHSLM continues to advocate for and support people impacted by the criminal justice system, the organization has developed an expertise in assisting people facing multiple barriers, including those who may be experiencing homelessness, unemployment, problematic substance abuse, mental health challenges, developmental disabilities, or spectrum disorders. This is done through a range of programs that provide assistance with housing, life-skills, education, employment, and community-based services, with the goal of creating a safe, healthy and inclusive community for all.
The Society is also involved in parole, probation, bail supervision and community assessments, lessening the demands on existing facilities. In the area of education, the Society provides speakers for service clubs, churches and community groups desiring information about the criminal justice system and for furthering the cause of penal reform. In the area of advocacy, the Society's staff has been involved in preparing briefs and papers and corresponding with Government officials and others in an attempt to monitor the criminal justice system and encourage alternatives.
Organizationally, the John Howard Society of BC and the Vancouver Office of the JHS operated under the same roof and had the same executive director until 1983 when the provincial office was removed to Victoria, physically separated from any local branch office. At that time the JHS of BC and the JHS of Vancouver Island were amalgamated. The Vancouver office became the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of BC. There are currently seven regional John Howard Society’s in BC, and one provincial organization which now operates in the same office as the JHSLM.
Scope and content
The records of the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia consist of the Society's administrative records and client case files and cards used to document information about individual clients. They encompass work done as a provincial society and also as a working office in the Lower Mainland.
The administrative records of the Society document all aspects of the Society's work. They are broken down into three separate series, reflecting the particular manner in which the Society operated. First, a separate series of miscellaneous records which the Society appears to have kept apart from its established file system dates from 1932 to 1988. A second series of administrative records dating from 1932 to about 1968 reflects the Society's file classification plan in use at the time (see Appendix B1 - hard-copy finding aid only). A third group of administrative records reflects a new file classification plan which replaced the earlier file system (see Appendix B2 - hard-copy finding aid only). Administrative records that have accrued to the fonds have been added to this series.
Later records demonstrate the increased activity of the society in addressing the social problems of crime, including victim assistance programs and community assessments, as well as administration of halfway houses.
Individual case files and cards provide evidence of the Society's involvement with clients on probation including repeat or 'habitual' offenders, as well as prison visits, counseling sessions and other related actions undertaken by the Society on behalf of its clients.
Records comprising this fonds are records created at the Vancouver office of the Society, and do not include records created by the various regional offices.
Immediate source of acquisition
The records of the John Howard Society of British Columbia were donated to the Simon Fraser University Archives in January 1993 by the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland. A donation agreement was entered into between the John Howard Society and the Archives involving the transfer of ownership and matters pertaining to access and confidentiality of information contained in the files.
An Agreement to Transfer was signed in 1998 that bound the JHS of the Lower Mainalnd of BC to transfer its records every five yars beginning in 1999. Accordingly, an accrual to the existing donation was made in 1999.
Arrangement of this fonds has been challenging because the organization operated as both a provincial society and a working branch office for most of its years. As such, the records for these 2 functions are intermingled. The accrual of later records firmly cements the arrangement as the JHS of the Lower Mainland of BC. Consequently, the name of the fonds has changed from the John Howard Society of British Columbia to the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Most of the administrative records have been added to the existing 3rd series F-1-3 and new series have been added for Habituals, Victim assistance program, Completed community assessments, Parolee card file, Closing reports, and Executive director records.
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Restrictions on access
Pursuant to article 4.03 of the Donation Agreement between the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of B.C. and Simon Fraser University, the John Howard Society of British Columbia fonds is subject to the principles of privacy as laid out in the 1992 Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (c. 61). Part 4.03 of the Agreement on access stipulates that:
"In providing access to any part of the client files, the Archives will act in accordance with the principles of privacy as laid out in the Freedom on Information and Protection of Privacy Act, S.B.C., 1992, c. 61 and such amendments to this Act as may be made from time to time. The University Archivist assumes responsibility for administering access to the records and for interpreting the application of these principles when considering individual requests for research access to these files. The John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland shall be permitted to have access to the Restricted Material, and such access shall be on the conditions set out in the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of B.C.'s authorization."
Article 8 of the Agreement refers to the confidentiality of the papers:
"The Archives acknowledges that certain information relating to the activities of the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland of B.C. is confidential. The Archives shall use its best efforts to maintain the absolute confidentiality of all restricted materials."
Accordingly, files in series F-1-4 (Client case files) and F-1-5 (Client case cards) are restricted in order to protect the personal information and privacy of clients of the John Howard Society. Files marked 'pending review' must be reviewed by an archivist prior to release, and as a result of the review access restrictions may apply. Please see the file lists and consult the archivist for more details.
Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication
Series descriptions and file lists are available. Office file classification plans are available (photocopies) are available in the hard copy version of the finding aid maintained in the Archives Reading Room.
The records of the John Howard Society of Vancouver Island, a separate and independent John Howard Society, are held at the University of British Columbia Library, University Archives Division.
It is expected that future accruals of the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland, the local body now carrying out program areas of the Society, will be acquired by Simon Fraser University Archives.
1 photograph located in F-1-2-6-11
21 photographs located in F-1-3-1-0-29
23 photographs located in F-1-3-1-0-30
1 photograph located in F-1-3-1-0-31
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Dates of creation, revision and deletion
August 1995: finding aid prepared (Gary Carre, Frances Fournier, Enid Britt).
March 2006: updated (Richard Dancy).
October 2013: accruals processed to series 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 (Kelly Stewart).
May 2020: updated administrative history (Matthew Lively).