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

Prince George sweeps Chilliwack Chiefs out of BCHL playoffs

The BCHL’s regular season champs were taken out in four straight by their Mainland division rivals.

Chilliwack’s Jordyn Huitema wins Sport B.C. award

The honours keep coming for Huitema, who is in the spotlight with Canada’s national soccer squad.

See stunning sights and amazing adventures at mountain film fest in Chilliwack

Discover what’s in our own backyard with the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival tour

Agassiz speed skater heading to Canada West championships

Mya Onos, 11, is qualified for her first provincials this year, and is now taking on Western Canada

Seven Days in Chilliwack

A list of community events happening in Chilliwack from March 18 to 24

Five highlights in the 2019 federal budget

Latest budget includes a sprinkling of money for voters across a wide spectrum

Facebook to overhaul ad targeting to prevent discrimination

The company is also paying about $5 million to cover plaintiffs’ legal fees and other costs

B.C. mosque part of open-house effort launched in wake of New Zealand shootings

The ‘Visit a Mosque’ campaign aims to combat Islamophobia

Teacher reprimanded after incident with Grade 11 student in school gym

Gregory Norman Brock was teaching at a high school in the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows School District

‘That’s a load of crap’: Dog poop conspiracy spreads in White Rock

Allegation picked up steam through a Facebook page run by a city councillor

Explosives unit brought in after suspicious boxes left at B.C. RCMP detachment

Nanaimo RCMP issues all clear after packages were found on lawn earlier in the day

Avalanche control tomorrow on Highway 1

Expect closures of up to two hours east of Revelstoke

2019 BUDGET: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentives

Stronger economy last year delivered unexpected revenue bump of an extra $27.8 billion over six years

Newfoundland man caught after posting photo of himself drinking and driving

The 19-year-old took a photo of himself holding a beer bottle and cigarette while at the wheel

Most Read