The John Howard Society of Manitoba is ending its bail residence program after the organization’s funding was cut.
The group, which helps with rehabilitative and reintegrative services for men involved in the justice system, said as of Dec. 1, the program will no longer be operating because there isn’t sufficient funding to continue it.
“Manitoba has a high rate of people on remand and it’s a small group of people that we are working with, but there are challenges in order to get out on bail,” said John Hutton, the society’s executive director.
The program specifically helps people who are on remand and may not be able to get bail because they don’t have a place to go in the community.
“If we can get them out on bail and support them and encourage them to stay out in the community, they are likely to do better when they go to court … they are less likely to go back into custody if they are convicted and they are less likely to recidivate.”
The average length of stay for people in the bail residence program was about eight months, but occasionally it was more than a year. The residence had 26 beds.
Sometimes all the beds were full, but on average Hutton said about 16 beds were used each night. In the last couple of months that number had dropped to about eight, but he said he expected it to rise again soon.
The end of the program may mean that more people are sitting behind bars waiting for their court date, but Hutton said the John Howard Society is also working with other organizations and will be continuing a program that supervises bail clients living in the community.
In June, the John Howard Society and the Elizabeth Fry Society Manitoba, which works with women involved in the justice system, both spoke about the difficulty of maintaining programs after a 20 per cent budget cut from the province.