Literacy and Access to Justice

  • In the early 1990s JHS assumed a lead role in the area of literacy and access to justice. It convened a task force that included the police, prosecutors, defence counsel, judges, and community agencies that produced publications and a video on literacy and access to justice.
  • The National Judicial Institute has published a report on the effects of low literacy on individuals who come before the courts. (See http://www.nji.ca/nji/Public/documents/LiteracyGuideEv3.pdf_000.pdf)
  • The Canadian Judicial Council has completed a set of Model Jury Instructions in plain language and is working on tools for judges and lawyers to help them better communicate with self-represented litigants.
  • Recently, collaboration among a number of interested parties in British Columbia has resulted in a pilot project "Self-help Information Centre" for self-represented litigants in Vancouver.
  • The Canadian Bar Association has produced an extensive report on the subject and its BC affiliate has circulated over 5,000 copies of materials it has developed.
  • RCMP Constable John Kennedy established the Adopt-A-Library Program in New Brunswick, encouraging the use of public libraries by children and their families, as a safe community place where literacy and social skills contribute to self-development and stronger family relationships. Kennedy was recognized for this initiative by the Minister of Justice Youth Justice Policing Award and the Canadian Library Association.
  • The Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges put literacy on the agenda for its September 2005 meeting. Manitoba's Provincial Court Judges have produced standard form plain written clauses for Bail Hearing Orders. Over 180 Ontario judges attended a seminar on literacy.
  • The Church Council on Justice and Corrections, through its project "Prison to Prism", is exploring the use of innovative tools for public education about criminal justice, as a means of engaging people who may be marginalized by factors such as domestic violence, substance abuse, poverty and low literacy skills.
  • The Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals has produced excellent learning materials in this area. (See http://www.ccat-ctac.org/en/literacy/publication.php).