The John Howard Society of Fredericton Inc. is a community-based organization. The purpose of this organization is to assist inmates, ex-offenders, and those considered to be at risk to offend (due to their economic, emotional, social, or other factors) in their attempts to re-enter the circles of mainstream society. This independent and voluntary organization has been working in and around the Fredericton area since 1955. It is comprised of citizens who accept the responsibility of understanding and addressing the problems of crime and the criminal justice system in creative, humane and progressive ways.
The mandate of the John Howard Society of Fredericton, Inc. is three-fold: direct service, reform, and community education & development.
Direct Service provides community-based services and advocacy for individuals who have or may come into conflict with the law. Through reform, the organization reviews, analyses and evaluates criminal justice issues and actively promotes appropriate structural changes in the criminal justice process. With community education and development, the John Howard Society stimulates and engages community participation in response to the problems and issues of crime.
- People have the right to live in a safe and peaceful society as well as the responsibility implied by this right to respect the law.
- Every person has intrinsic worth and the right to be treated with dignity, equity, fairness, and compassion when involved with the criminal justice process.
- All people have the potential to become responsible citizens
- Every person has the right and the responsibility to be informed about and involved in the criminal justice process
- Justice is best served through measures that resolve conflicts, repair harm, and restore peaceful relations in society
- Independent, autonomous non-government organizations have a vital role in the criminal justice process
- People have the right to live in a safe and peaceful society as well as the responsibility to accept humane consequences when this right is infringed
John Howard was known as a great philanthropist. He would travel from prison to prison in an attempt to make the prisoners health more of a priority within the prison system.
John Howard was born in northern England on September 2nd, 1726. His mother died in 1731, five years after he was born, leaving his father to take care of him. His father sent him away to Bedfordshire, where the family owned property.
Once John Howard has completed his schooling, he used the money he inherited from his father, who died in 1742, to travel Europe. He left on his journey in 1748. After he returned to England from travelling, he found accommodations with a middle-aged woman named Sarah Loidore, who made a living off of renting lodgings. During his stay on the lady’s property, John Howard became horribly sick and was nursed back to health by Sarah. Being unable to think of a suitable way to repay her, he married her. Unfortunately, his wife died a few years later.
While on his way to Portugal, John Howard was captured by French privateers and taken to Brest, France. He was not given any food or water during the two days it took to get to Brest. While at Brest, he was kept in poor living conditions, and had nothing to sleep on but a pile of straw. After a few days in Brest, he was transferred to Morlaix, an area on the northern coast of France. The living conditions of the prisoners were no better in Morlaix than in Brest. The poor living conditions led to the deaths of many prisoners. John Howard’s freedom was exchanged for that of a French man who was captured by the English.
Sometime after returning to England, John Howard married his second wife, Henrietta Leeds, in Bedfordshire. Henrietta died several days after giving birth to her and John’s son.
In the year of 1773, John Howard was made High Sheriff of Bedford. After he was appointed as High Sheriff, he took the time to personally inspect the prison. He found that the prisoners were kept in poor living conditions, similar to those in which he was kept in during his imprisonment in France. He also noted that a number of prisoners were detained significantly longer than their sentence required as the prisoner could not pay the jailer’s fee. After seeing the state of his local prison, John Howard travelled across England visiting a number of prisons and houses of corrections to evaluate the conditions in which the prisoners were kept. He found that the poor living conditions the prisoners were kept in were universal among the prisons of England.
In March of 1774, John Howard was called to the House of Commons where he was thanked for his work in inspecting prisons. As an acknowledgement of his work, a couple of laws were passed. The laws focused on maintaining the health of the prisoners and making sure that prisoners were released once their sentence was completed.
With his success in improving the quality of life for prisoners, John Howard toured the prisons of Ireland and Scotland. After his tour, he wrote and published “The State of Prisons in England and Wales; with Preliminary Observations on the Account of Some Foreign Prisons.”
He continued touring the prisons of other places in Europe such as Prussia, Austria, Italy, and some German Cities. He recorded what he observed during his travels and published a second edition of his book in the year of 1780.
On January 10th, 1790, John Howard contracted a disease from a prisoner in a jail he was inspecting. After fighting the sickness for ten days, John Howard succumbed to the illness and died on January 20th, 1790 in Ukraine at the age of 65.
Information from Anecdotes of the life and character of John Howard, Esq. F. R. S. Written by a gentleman, whose Acquaintance with that Celebrated Philanthropist Gave Him the Most Favourable Opportunity of Learning Particulars Not Generally Known.