Cathy Crowe





Justice and Injustice: Incarceration and Homelessness in Toronto

by John Howard Society of
and the Centre for Urban and Community Studies


Click here for the actual report
Pictures from Press Conference



Panel remarks from Cathy Crowe at Press Conference:

April 24/06



Well, there is research and there is research.


There is research that will forever sit on the shelf and collect dust…like the Mayor’s Homelessness Action Task Force. After all, in 1999 Dr. Anne Golden wrote “The point at which a person is discharged from a hospital or a prison is an opportunity to intervene to prevent homelessness.”  She also wrote “Institutions need to establish discharge protocols for homeless people.  Ideally, no one should be discharged from an institution directly to a hostel, let alone into the street.”   


There is research that can harm, like sending 1600 volunteers out with one hour training under their belt to assess the needs of homeless people, which will undoubtedly lead to misguided decisions and spending cuts. 


There is research that is what I call ‘research with a pulse’ - that is responsive to a collection of issues and concerns and can give rise to healthy public policy. Like the Street Health Report, like the secret video footage of shelter conditions that didn’t meet the UN standards for refugee camps, like the research on homeless deaths by Stephen Hwang.


This research is the latter.


Orange may be my favorite colour but there is nothing more indicative of what you could call an orange alert in the corrections system than when you see that individual walking out of College Park or Toronto Jail wearing that one piece suit.


If you think or can imagine that discharging someone who is homeless from hospital is complicated and is begging for improvement, well imagine that system in place, not in place really in the corrections system.  I congratulate John Howard and U of T for shedding light on this problem that front line workers and homeless people have known about for years.


To help support this point – the weekend Globe, as part of their critique of the ‘homeless count’ profiled a man who has been homeless 9 months since coming out of jail. 


During the course of 14 years working for 2 agencies – Queen West Community health Centre and Street Health, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I was contacted by staff within a correction facility to assist with discharge of patients I knew.  I was contacted by the individuals incarcerated but never by representatives of the facility to help coordinate discharge and supports outside of the institution.




If the recommendations in this report are implemented – the following could occur and they are pretty obvious:



It’s just common sense.


Recommendation #47 from the Golden Report - 1999


“Institutions should establish and implement discharge protocols for all persons with no fixed address.  No one should be discharged from an institution to the street.


Will we have to wait another seven years for the recommendations in this 2006 report to be implemented?


I’d like to thank the John Howard Society and the University for putting this issue back on the policy agenda.



Check with delivery



For further information, please contact: 


  Cathy Crowe

Back to Hot off the Press                                                                Back to Cathy Crowe Home