We monitor the legal and policy frameworks that govern policing, the criminal justice process, and our prisons and jails to ensure that our civil liberties and the rights enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms are respected. We also fight to illuminate and combat the discrimination – systemic and otherwise – that occurs at every stage of the criminal justice process and results in disproportionate harm to many historically disadvantaged communities, including Black and other racialized communities, Indigenous persons, those experiencing homelessness, people living with mental illness or addictions, migrants, and the LGBTQ2+ community.
The criminal justice system wields some of the state’s most coercive powers. Police are granted powers stop, question, search, harm, and even kill, if necessary. Judges determine guilt and innocence. Prisons deprive people of their most basic liberties. CCLA’s criminal justice program works to ensure that these incredible powers are used proportionately, fairly, and only when absolutely necessary.
Our Recent Cases and Reports
Learn more about our major ongoing litigation, research, and advocacy in the area of Criminal Justice.
Racial ProfilingCanadian police detain thousands of racialized persons in suspicionless roadside stops each year. These police powers enable racial profiling and we believe they are unconstitutional.
Fighting Strip Searches
In 2001, the Supreme Court of Canada called strip searches “one of the most extreme exercises of police power” and “inherently humiliating and degrading”. So why has Canada’s federal prison system carried out hundreds of thousands of unnecessary strip searches since then? These are not trivial intrusions. Canadians serving sentences are forced to undergo highly invasive searches in low-risk situations, such as leaving a secure area, or even upon release from prison. These searches can inflict severe psychological trauma, particularly for those with a history of being abused. We’re asking the federal government to end these harmful practices.
Fighting Solitary Confinement
Solitary confinement is the practice of confining someone in conditions of extreme isolation. Getting the practice ruled unconstitutional has been a major goal of both CCLA and BCCLA. We went to Canada’s highest court for a showdown with the federal government.
Detasking Toronto Police ReportCCLA Partners on Report, entitled Rethinking Community Safety – A Step Forward For Toronto, urging City of Toronto to shift resources and responsibilities away from the police and towards alternative crisis response and social support mechanisms.
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view all our cases and reports in our archive.