The Elizabeth Fry Society of Peterborough is committed to advocating and providing services to all women in our community with a special focus on women who have been victimized, marginalized, criminalized and institutionalized. We are committed to ending the criminalization of poverty, addiction, mental health, and domestic violence. We recognize the rights of women to dignity and respect in all aspects of their involvement with the criminal justice system. We are committed to working with other agencies and all levels of government with similar principles and objectives.
The Elizabeth Fry Society of Peterborough is incorporated under the laws of the Province of Ontario. The Board of Directors and the Society’s employees uphold our philosophy and policies and honour the best interests of those persons that we assist at all times.
- We believe that all criminalized women are entitled to the supports necessary to address the impacts of sexual and domestic violence, the feminization of poverty and social exclusion due to Aboriginal and cultural identity, mental illness, sexual orientation and HIV/AIDS.
- We believe in alternatives to incarceration through gender responsive community based services.
- We believe that women are entitled to access resources and services regardless of their histories of criminalization.
- We believe that women are entitled to safety from threats of sexual, verbal or physical harassment and harm, and discriminatory treatment by service providers on all levels of government.
- We believe that women are criminalized because of systemic conditions of poverty and gendered violence.
- We believe that this Society has a responsibility to advocate for the rights of criminalized and imprisoned women at all levels of government.
- We believe that criminalized women have a right to be members of the community.
- We believe that this Society has a responsibility to actively oppose regressive policy and law reforms that place women at greater risk of coming into conflict with the law, or that adversely affect women in custody.
In recognition of our unique knowledge and skills and consistent with our fundamental beliefs, we have adopted a philosophy which we believe maximizes our potential effectiveness and contribution to the lives of the women we serve and to the community. The Elizabeth Fry Society of Peterborough is therefore an organization which:
- Operates as a not for profit agency committed to managing its operations at all times in a financial and socially responsible manner.
- Holds the provision of gender responsive services that are respectful of a woman’s dignity and to meet the needs of women in the criminal justice system as its core.
- Provides advocacy.
- Is part of the community and as a community based agency accepts and shares the responsibility of the community to women in the criminal justice system.
- Values and utilizes volunteers as a vital link to its community base.
- Is committed to encouraging public education on issues related to the criminal justice system and women in the criminal justice system.
- Is part of the criminal justice system by virtue of some of the services the organization provides and accepts the responsibility for improving the system from within, and where involved.
- Is committed to continue self-determination and self-evaluation of its programs, operations and existence.
- Is committed to providing support and services independently and freely to any woman in our mandate who is in need without discrimination.
- Is supportive of other agencies with similar principles, common advocacy goals, alternate and supplemental programs and other resources.
- Is committed to action on the provincial and national level on behalf of women in the criminal justice system as a member of the Ontario Council of Elizabeth Fry Societies and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.
- To provide gender responsive services and programs which promote the empowerment of women who are, have been or may be in conflict with the criminal justice system.
- To initiate social action and foster community involvement and responsibility in an effort directed at social change, reform of the ‘Criminal Justice System’ and development of community alternatives to incarceration.
- To promote community awareness, knowledge and understanding of the issues faced by women involved in the criminal justice system and the conditions which contribute to women coming into conflict with the law.
- To establish and maintain policies and practices which embrace the diversity of women’s social and criminal histories.
- To ensure that the management and administration of our agency is carried out efficiently and effectively within the context of mutual respect and consideration among all staff and volunteers.
Council of Elizabeth Fry Societies of Ontario (CEFSO)
The Council of Elizabeth Fry Societies of Ontario is the provincial voice for the Elizabeth Fry Societies of Ontario. It is the regional advocate for federally sentenced women in Ontario. CEFSO monitors the conditions for both provincially and federally sentenced women in prison through visits to jails and direct contact with women, and advocates for improvements to those conditions.
We also promote public understanding about women in the criminal justice system and contribute our expertise through membership on key government committees, testimony at inquests into deaths in custody, submissions to task forces and the legislative process and research.
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS)
CAEFS is an association of self-governing, community-based Elizabeth Fry Societies that work with and for women and girls in the justice system, particularly those who are, or may be, criminalized. The association exists to ensure substantive equality in the delivery and development of services and programs through public education, research, legislative and administrative reform, regionally, nationally and internationally. Member societies support the following principles:
- While the strength of our federation is the freedom to meet the needs of our communities in unique and effective ways, as an association, CAEFS develops policies and positions and acts on common interests affecting women.
- Women’s rights are human rights and women are entitled to substantive equality; that is, the right of access to equal opportunities and programs in the justice system; as well as the right to justice without fear of prejudice or discrimination on the basis of such factors as sex, race, disability, sexual orientation, age, religion and freedom of conscience, social or economic condition.
- Women who are criminalized should not be imprisoned; all efforts will be made to prevent women from being incarcerated and to facilitate the earliest community integration of those who are sentenced to a term of imprisonment.