Indictment: The Criminal Justice System on Trial
Published: August 2023© 2023
Imprint: Aevo UTP
Page Count: 408 Pages
Illustrations: 4 b&w tables
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
408 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 4 b&w tables
Ebook - PDF
Based on first-hand interviews with survivors, people who have committed offences, and others on the frontlines, Indictment puts the Canadian criminal justice system on trial and proposes a bold new vision of transformative justice.
#MeToo. Black Lives Matter. Decriminalize Drugs. No More Stolen Sisters. Stop Stranger Attacks.
Do we need more cops or to defund the police? Harm reduction or treatment? Tougher sentences or prison abolition? The debate about Canada’s criminal justice system has rarely been so polarized – or so in need of fresh ideas.
Indictment brings the heartrending and captivating stories of survivors and people who have committed offences to the forefront to help us understand why the criminal justice system is facing such an existential crisis.
Benjamin Perrin draws on his expertise as a lawyer, former top criminal justice advisor to the prime minister, and law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada to investigate the criminal justice system itself. Indictment critiques the system from a trauma-informed perspective, examining its treatment of victims of crime, Indigenous people and Black Canadians, people with substance use and mental health disorders, and people experiencing homelessness, poverty, and unemployment.
Perrin also shares insights from others on the frontlines, including prosecutors and defence lawyers, police chiefs, Indigenous leaders, victim support workers, corrections officers, public health experts, gang outreach workers, prisoner and victims’ rights advocates, criminologists, psychologists, and leading trauma experts. Bringing forward the voices of marginalized people, along with their stories of survival and resilience, Indictment shows that a better way is possible.
Part 1: The Criminal Justice System on Trial
2. “Set Up to Fail”: Criminalizing People Who Use Substances
3. “From Protectors to Villains”: Mental Health, Poverty & Homelessness
4. “Justice Is Not Blind”: Indigenous Peoples
5. "Thrown in with the Wolves”: Incarcerating Indigenous People
6. “The Usual Suspects”: Anti-Black Racism
7. “An Alien System of Law”: Suppression of Indigenous Justice
8. “Nobodies”: Victims of Crime
9. “Do No Harm or Injustice”: Secondary Victimization
10. “Perfectly Designed”
Part 2: A New Vision for Criminal Justice
11. A New Vision
12. Healthy Kids and Communities: Preventing Childhood Trauma and Investing in Social Determinants of Justice
13. Decriminalizing People: Public Health Approaches to Substances, Mental Health, Poverty, and Homelessness
14. Transforming Trauma: Holistic Support for People Who Were Harmed and Caused Harm
15. Real Safety: Mobile 24/7 Non-Police Responses
16. Peacemaking and Accountability: Restorative Justice as the Primary Approach to Resolving Conflict
17. Rehabilitation and Healing: Abolition of Traditional Prisons and Jails
18. Indigenous Justice
19. "New and Better Stories"
Mental Health and Counselling Resources for Readers
"A provocative book. Indictment is articulate and passionate and lays out what Perrin believes is a path to reform." Blacklock's Reporter
"Indictment offers a clear, compassionate, and practical vision for a much-needed transformation of the criminal justice system – a system consumed by the over-representation of Indigenous people and other marginalized Canadians. Through their powerful stories we find the key to doing justice better and breaking down the barriers that exist in our society. Building something new is never easy, but when we see this vision realized, it will be well worth it for all Canadians."Puglaas, The Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, PC, OBC, KC, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
"Indictment dismantled everything I thought I knew about the criminal justice system. This powerful book is a necessary read. Benjamin Perrin utilizes poignant stories of lived experiences to show why the criminal justice system doesn’t work for any of us. He offers a beautiful vision for healthy communities that are safe for everyone. Read this book and you will never see things the same way again."Clara Hughes, OC, OM, six-time Olympic medalist and mental health advocate
"A vividly written, long overdue, and deservedly rigorous critique of our legal system. Indictment exposes how neglecting history and ignoring trauma impacts the lives and actions of the people in our country caught up in its machinery, especially Indigenous people. Perrin offers an evidence-based, compassionate, and achievable vision of how this system could earn its name as one serving justice."Gabor Maté, author of The Myth of Normal: Trauma, Illness, and Healing in a Toxic Culture
"Incarceration or rehabilitation? That is the question. If you keep doing what you have always done, you’ll keep getting what you have got – only in this case, it keeps getting worse. This book is alarming and hits close to home as an Indigenous person. Punishment, denunciation, and deterrence address the symptoms and not the cause. The ideas for a new path forward in this book must be adopted. Let’s make it happen."Bob Joseph, author of 21 Things You May Not Know about the Indian Act and Indigenous Relations: Insights, Tips & Suggestions to Make Reconciliation a Reality
"This is an important book that shifts how we think about criminal justice and the people caught up in the system in Canada. Perrin outlines in great detail how we have failed, and provides a new vision for how our systems and our society can do better."Akwasi Owusu-Bempah, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Toronto, and author of Waiting to Inhale: Cannabis Legalization and the Fight for Racial Justice
"Indictment is nothing short of revolutionary. The implications of a truly trauma-informed perspective on justice require a reckoning. With sensitivity to the stories of survivors, Benjamin Perrin brings together the latest social science research and demonstrates the necessity for nothing short of a justice system overhaul. The writing style is beautiful, sensitive, and articulate. The case studies are authentic. Perrin’s courageous book gives voice to a great many who have suffered at the hands of a cruel system of justice."Robert T. Muller, Professor of Clinical Psychology, York University, Fellow at the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, and author of Trauma and the Struggle to Open Up
"Indictment is original, timely, and easy to grasp. Perrin’s conversations with people directly affected by Canada’s criminal justice system, alongside his excellent research, offer compelling arguments for reform. He widens our focus and provides valuable guidance for transforming our understanding of this field."John Borrows, Loveland Chair in Indigenous Law, University of Toronto
"If Benjamin Perrin were a physician, Indictment would diagnose multi-organ failure in his moribund patient – the justice system – caused by ignorance of the effects of trauma, systemic racism, and colonial violence. But he is a professor of criminal law, so instead he prosecutes his case with passion, evidence, and the testimony of compelling witnesses. His vision of a new transformative justice might also be the basis for a more just and compassionate social order. Indictment is a must-read."Robert Maunder, Chair in Health and Behaviour at Sinai Health, Professor of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, and co-author of Damaged: Childhood Trauma, Adult Illness, and the Need for a Health Care Revolution
“Every justice minister, lawyer, cop, judge, probation officer, parole board member, and corrections officer should have to read this book! Thanks, Benjamin Perrin, for putting this extraordinary book into the world!” Myrna McCallum, Métis/Cree lawyer and host of the award-winning podcast The Trauma-Informed Lawyer