A solitary confinement cell is shown in a undated handout photo from the Office of the Correctional Investigator. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO- Office of the Correctional Investigator)

Federal government to fight solitary confinement ruling from B.C. court

B.C. Supreme Court decided to end the practice of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association says the federal government has announced it will appeal a B.C. court decision that finds indefinite solitary confinement is unconstitutional.

The ruling was handed down last month following a challenge by the association and the John Howard Society of Canada.

Association executive director Josh Paterson says he’s shocked by the appeal because the federal Liberals pledged during the election campaign to end so-called administrative segregation.

He says the appeal shows they intend to fight to save a system that breaks the law and makes society less safe.

READ: Solitary-confinement veto a chance to address mental health, says advocate

In his Jan. 17 decision, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Peter Leask found indefinite segregation undermines the safety and security of inmates, staff and the public.

The Crown argued the practice was reasonable and necessary, but the judge accepted the association’s position that solitary confinement is cruel, inhumane and can lead to severe psychological trauma.

The ruling was suspended for 12 months to give the federal government time to draft new legislation, which Leask said must include strict time limits on segregation.

Following the decision, Paterson said the civil liberties association wrote to the federal ministers of Justice and Public Safety, seeking an end to further court action.

“Having won in court, we extended a hand to the government to work together to fix this problem to no avail. Despite us reaching out, to date, the federal government has given us no response other than filing this appeal,” Paterson said in a news release.

At the time of the January judgement, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said the federal government was reviewing it and “is committed to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in the federal correctional system.”

Caily DiPuma, the acting litigation director for the civil liberties association said prisoners continue to spend weeks, months and even years in small cells without human contact, and she called the federal appeal “another example of justice deferred” for the vulnerable and marginalized.

“We will not turn our backs to them, nor will Canadians. We will fight this appeal,” she said in the association’s statement.

The Canadian Press


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

BREAKING: Canadian Press declares NDP’s Blaney winner in North Island-Powell River

Canadian Press is declaring NDP candidate Rachel Blaney as the winner in… Continue reading

Union says Western Forest Products refuses to budge from ‘unreasonable concessions’

According to a press release, both parties met on Oct. 16, 18, 19, and 20.

Alberta man pleads guilty, fined for hunting without a licence in North Island

It’s the responsibility of each hunter or angler to know whether they are considered a B.C. Resident.

Hildering gives presentation on humpback whales in Port Alice

Humpback whales have been swimming around Neurotsos Inlet this past summer and fall.

North Island Atom Eagles fall to Nanaimo Clippers at home

The Eagles put in some solid shifts over three tough periods.

Second young woman dies after rollover crash near Williams Lake

‘Someone’s going to get her heart, which is awesome, because she has the best heart in the world’

Google searches for ‘how to vote’ surge on Election Day

Interest spikes despite social media campaign by Elections Canada

B.C. mayor apologizes for removal of Queen’s portrait from council chambers

‘I prefer to be inclusive of the many aspects of our history’

Alcohol a possible factor in crash that killed 17-year-old girl near Williams Lake

A pickup truck left the road and rolled over on Highway 20 on the weekend

Rare bird spotted in Victoria draws enthusiasts from across the continent

It’s the first time a yellow-browed warbler has been reported on the mainland of North America

B.C. woman must pay $1,000 after unleashed dog bites another

Owner should never have left Bibi unattended, tribunal member wrote

Climate activist Greta Thunberg’s mural defaced in Edmonton

The eyes on the portrait were blacked out

App designed to help cut waste and grocery bills

Food security advocates say addressing poverty is ultimate key

Most Read