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Longlist #9: Benjamin Perrin’s Indictment

May 6, 2024 / Ariel Gordon / Book Prize

There are ten books on the 2024 J.W. Dafoe Book Prize longlist and today we’re going to highlight Benjamin Perrin’s Indictment: The Criminal Justice System on Trial (University of Toronto Press).

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 heartrendingand 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 toinvestigate 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.

Benjamin Perrin is a professor at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia. He has served in the Prime Minister’s Office as inhouse legal counsel and lead policy advisor on criminal justice and public safety. He was also a law clerk at the Supreme Court of Canada. He is the author of Overdose: Heartbreak and Hope in Canada’s Opioid Crisis.

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