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BCCLA sues to stop Canada from placing prisoners in solitary confinement

Associations claims that wardens continue to use this practice as a form of ‘prison management’
B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Tuesday December 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has launched a lawsuit to stop wardens in federal prisons from placing inmates in solitary confinement.

The legal action was announced Wednesday(Oct. 13) by the association’s litigation director Grace Pastine.

“Solitary confinement is the practice of placing a person alone in a locked cell for 22 hours or more per day without meaningful access to human contact,” Pastin said from the step of the Vancouver courts.

“Long-term solitary confinement has been condemned the world over as a form of torture.”

The association’s legal counsel, Megan Tweedie, said that solitary confinement happens when wardens use measures such as lockdowns and restrictive movement routines.

Tweedie said that a B.C. Supreme Court decision in 2019 that called solitary confinement inhumane and unconstitutional should have ended the practice but that in reality, it continues.

“The federal government claimed it abolished the practice by eliminating its administrative segregation routine,” she said. “However, we continue to see the ongoing and persistent use of illegal isolation in federal prisons.”

Tweedie said that at times, lockdowns or the restriction of movement around the prison leaves inmates in windowless cells for days at a time, with breaks as short as 15 minutes.

“Solitary confinement causes devastating harm to the people who experience it, as well as their families and communities,” she said. “It also does nothing to rehabilitate and make prisons safer.”

None of the facts in this case have been proven in court. The Attorney General of Canada, named as the defendant, has 21 days to file a response.

READ MORE: Barred use of solitary confinement continues at Mission Institution, Kent Institution: report


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