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Federal government ordered to pay $20M for placing mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement

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  • Federal government ordered to pay $20M for placing mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement


    An Ontario judge has ordered the federal government to pay $20*million for placing mentally ill inmates in solitary* confinement,*with the money earmarked to boost mental health supports in*correctional facilities.

    In a ruling issued this week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul*Perell says the Correctional Service of Canada violated the charter*rights of thousands of inmates who filed a class-action lawsuit*against the agency over its use of* administrative segregation.

    Perell found those who were involuntarily placed in*administrative segregation for more than 30 days, or voluntarily for*more than 60, experienced a systemic breach of their rights under*the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    Those who were in segregation for less than 30 days can still*make claims later in the case.


    Compensation for individual members of the class has also not yet*been determined and submissions will be heard at a future date.

    $20M to go to additional resources

    The judge says the $20 million will go to "additional mental*health or program resources" in the penal system as well as legal*fees.

    "The funds are to remedy to the harm caused to society which has*suffered from the correctional service's failure to comply with the*charter and also its failure to comply with the spirit of the*Corrections and Conditional Release Act and its purpose of*rehabilitating mentally ill inmates to return to society rather than*worsening their capacity to do so by the harm caused by prolonged*solitary confinement," Perell wrote in his ruling.


    The Correctional Service of Canada did not immediately respond to*a request for comment.

    Administrative segregation is used to maintain security when*inmates pose a risk to themselves or others and no reasonable*alternative is available.

    The practice has faced legal challenges in Ontario and British*Columbia, both of which found extended solitary confinement to be*unconstitutional.


    Ontario's top court has given federal government until April 30 to fix its*solitary confinement law, while B.C.'s has extended the deadline to*June 17.

    The government has pointed to Bill C-83, now before the Senate,*which eliminates administrative segregation and replaces it with*"structured intervention units" meant to emphasize "meaningful*human contact" for inmates and improve their access to programs and*services.*

    However, the bill does not include hard caps on how many days or*months inmates can be isolated from the general prison population,*and civil liberties organizations have said it does not go far enough.

    • FIFTH ESTATE

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