Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: It's High Time to Track and Reduce the Use of Solitary Confinement

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: It's High Time to Track and Reduce the Use of Solitary Confinement

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: It's high time to track and reduce the use of solitary confinement

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published April 24:

In Ontario prisons, the shameful reality is that inmates are sometimes tossed into solitary confinement and then forgotten, for years, by the province.

We have long known this. Yet despite having studied the problem for years, Queen's Park has done little about it. A new report from Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube decries this persistent failure and recommends a series of sensible measures to address it. The province should waste no time in following his advice.

Consider the example of Adam Capay, who spent four years in solitary in a Thunder Bay jail while awaiting trial on a murder charge. "The ministry's unreliable records at the time showed he had been in segregation for 50 days -- when the real total was 1,591," Dube said. "As far as the ministry was concerned, he was out of sight and out of mind."

Sadly, Capay's case, while extreme, is not unique, Dube warned.

"We probably tracked livestock better than we do human beings," one ministry official told investigators.

Dube is rightly calling for a complete overhaul of the system. Among his recommendations:

- That the province set a standardized definition of segregation so it can properly track it.

- That a new tracking system be created that actually works.

- That independent panels review all segregation placements -- with an onus on the ministry of community and correctional services to show that each placement is justified.

- And that the ministry release annual reports on its use of solitary confinement.

Correctional services minister Marie-France Lalonde has already said she will address all of the ombudsman's recommendations and report back on her progress every six months. …

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