Respecting Human Rights With Howard
Featuring Howard Sapers
Correctional Investigator of Canada
December 10, 2013
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Howard is respected as a principled, insightful, and passionate voice on criminal justice issues. As Correctional Investigator appointed by the Canadian government, he serves as the federal ombudsman for offenders in Canada. His work supports the rights and fair treatment of those under the care of Canada’s correctional system. He has an extensive background in corrections, rehabilitation of offenders, and crime-prevention and brings multiple perspectives from his prior roles with the National Parole Board, the John Howard Society of Alberta, and the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. He has demonstrated a fearless commitment to address longstanding and complex problems in the correctional system, including the special needs of the mentally ill in prison, Canada’s over-represented population of incarcerated Aboriginal persons, and preventable deaths of inmates in custody. He displays the consistent courage, often in the face of adversity, to do and say what is right. His frank and focused annual reports to parliament have raised public awareness of the plight of the marginalized in the criminal justice system and have encouraged much needed debate on areas often left in the shadows. Prompted by his recommendations, Canada has now developed a mental health strategy to help support and treat the growing and disproportionate number of offenders in prison with mental illness. He is often called upon to comment on government policies and spending priorities, underlining the need for more investment in rehabilitation and reintegration programs for offenders and better standards of care in prisons to lower the incidences of violence and self-injury.
An active community volunteer, Mr. Sapers has held a number of positions, including: President of the Canadian Criminal Justice Association; President of the Alberta Criminal Justice Association; and Vice-Chair of the City of Edmonton Safer Cities Advisory Committee. He currently serves as a Chairman of the DND/Canadian Forces Ombudsman Advisory Committee, North American Region Member of the International Ombudsman Institute Board of Directors, and a Member of the Board of the Directors of the Forum of Canadian Ombudsman.
Mr. Sapers has received national recognition for his work and service. This recognition includes: the Canada 125 Medal; the Weiler Award for Social Development; the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal; and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2010, Mr. Sapers was recognized as a Champion of Mental Health by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health and he has received the President’s Commendation from the Canadian Psychiatric Association.