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Building Momentum for Bail Reform

Status: Ongoing  |  December 2019 – present



Fact: 70% of people held in Ontario jails are legally innocent.
Source: Auditor General of Ontario, 2019 Report on Correctional Services and Court Operations, page 16

Ontario’s bail system is obviously broken: it’s deeply unfair and negatively impacts thousands of people.
We already know how to fix it – legal experts and the government already agree on what’s needed. So why, after so many years, has there been so little progress?!

Unfortunately bail as a topic:

  • Confuses … the public with misinformation & false talking points
  • Divides… the legal community with finger-pointing & frustration
  • Scares… politicians into avoidance & delay


Where are we now

Where are we now

During Creative Design Challenge on February 1st, teams of talented creatives generated bold, new concepts to break through the status quo advocacy around bail reform.

The Phase 3 will build on this work in a strategic way by delivering:

1. An interactive educational website where users can navigate true-to-life stories and a system map explaining the bail crisis and viable paths to reform

2. Polished pitch materials for private sector organizations (like law firms, media/production companies, charitable foundations) and higher ed to fund/support a multimedia advocacy campaign that would deliver more fully-realized versions of these creative concepts.

To learn more about how we decided on this plan, check out our Creative Design Challenge Debrief.

Creative Design Challenge

Creative Design Challenge

Workshop participants at the Creative Design Challenge

The February 1st Creative Design Challenge was the project’s half-way point and represented the culmination of three months’ work by our team of volunteers – a unique collection of lawyers, UX/service designers, graphic designers, marketing strategists, and more, who share a passion for using creative design for social good.

You can browse all our workshop materials, including the day’s agenda, creative brief, posters, and more, by selecting the following linked images.

After a day of learning and exploration, participants presented a wide range of compelling concepts which have already opened many exciting pathways for further development. Some common themes included:

  • Experiential design: an art installation that helps users better understand the process/experience of being on remand
  • Interactive products: data visualizations or “choose your own adventure”-style narratives
  • Storytelling: video documentary series of true-to-life stories
  • Marketing tactics to provoke and engage: “missing person” posters that highlight unfair bail decisions or unfair conditions of release

Ideas generated

Missing From Your Own Life

A variety of tools, from a statue to a life reenactment of the bail process to posters, could be used to make the public reflect on the massive disruption being on remand creates for the incarcerated person. The goal was that members of the public would then post on social media with their thoughts, generating further awareness.

Art Installation: Experience of Being Denied Bail

embers of the public would go through an art installation in which each room would represent a stage of the bail process. By experiencing a simulated version of being on remand and the emotions it evokes, members of the public would become more supportive [empathic as well] of bail reform. Outside the main installation, educational material about bail would be presented.

Documentary on Real People and Supporting Visualization

A documentary would educate the public on stories of people held on remand and the impact it had on their lives, generating empathy among viewers and press attention. A data visuation will further educate people about the bail problem. 

App for Making Decisions on Bail Cases

An app would provide a “choose your own adventure” style narrative that puts the user in the position of someone granting bail. This would generate empathy for the user for the decision-makers.

Call A Criminal

The public can engage with a public art installation which takes the form of a phone booth where people are told they can call a criminal. Once the public dials, they will hear pre-recorded stories from real people in the bail system which evoke empathy. The public can be prompted to sign a petition by placing a coin in the phone booth.

Digital Crown/JOP Interactive Narrative

Users can participate in an interactive digital narrative where they are in the position of being a Crown or a JOP. They would webisodes about legal cases and decide who should get bail. They would then post on social media about their choices and compare results with friends.

What's next?

What's next?

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Project Leads:  
UX Concept:

Professional Backgrounds

UX design, graphic design, marketing, corporate consulting, education, data science, technical writing, law, public policy & political science.

Tell us about yourself and the skills you can bring to the project.

The problem, our strategy, and how your talent can make a difference

Learn more — essential background info about the system and why it’s broken