Everyone deserves a second chance is the daily call answered by The Salvation Army Corrections and Justice Services.
Operating in the justice system throughout Canada, The Salvation Army has been providing vital services to accused persons since 1883 in Toronto. Since then the Toronto Correctional & Justice Services Chaplaincy that serves south central Ontario has grown and flourished showing care, changing lives and providing inspiration through residential programs in the community, and work inside provincial courts and correctional centres.
“We work to see lives changed,” says Greg McInnes, Salvation Army Director of Chaplaincy for the Toronto Correctional & Justice Services. “We walk alongside people who have done horrific things in life, some with countless charges and others who experienced a minor lapse of judgement.”
A chaplain offers compassion to those who find themselves in stressful circumstances. Through their ministry they work to reduce anxiety and negative behaviour to keep all people at court and in detention safe. “We fill the gap in the system by visiting new arrests, making calls for people in the cells, referrals to resources, travel assistance or by simply listening to their stories. We go above and beyond to ensure they are looked after,” McInnes added.
Through working with The Salvation Army Thrift Store National Recycling Operation (NRO), Correctional and Justice Services provide clothing for those arrested and waiting in a court cells. “Cells tend to be cold and uncomfortable, so we provide them with clothing to help reduce their anxiety and stress. The help of NRO makes a huge difference,” McInnes said. Clothing is also provided from Thrift Stores for inmates who are leaving the system so that they can walk with dignity and respect into a new life.
“We try to keep in mind that all these people were beautiful children, they are by and large good people who made bad choices…and who are one good decision away from changing their lives,” McInnes notes. In 2017 the Toronto Correctional & Justice Services assisted 130,000 people through 953 programs providing over $67,000 in thrifted clothing free of cost.
“Our big goal is to see lives changed in a positive way. We want to transform lives and build safer communities. Everyone has a story. We are here to help them by listening, providing stability, teaching life skills and inspiring them to move to a better place,” he expressed.