Youth

Youth is part of the Equality program. You can find more information about it on its main program page.

CCLA supports students to launch court challenge of mandatory prom Breathalyzer

By on May 21, 2014

Recently the Canadian Civil Liberties Association wrote to Northern Secondary School outlining the organization’s concerns with the school’s plans to make every student entering the prom undergo a Breathalyzer test.  On Tuesday, May 20th, CCLA-cooperating pro bono lawyers filed an application in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice requesting a declaration that the proposed policy violates students’ constitutional rights.  The applicants are two students currently enrolled at the school.

Read a copy of the Notice of Application.

Homicide – Verdict in the Ashley Smith Inquest

By on December 19, 2013

The jury of five delivered their verdict this morning, determining that Ashley Smith died as a result of homicide.

This is a sad victory, as justice can never be done for Ashley Smith.

However, CCLA is hoping it will result in a clear message sent to the Correctional Service of Canada that significant changes need to be implemented to ensure that such tragedies cannot recur.  CCLA will continue working to protect the rights of all incarcerated persons including in particular those with mental illness; to demand meaningful accountability; and to call for meaningful monitoring and oversight systems in the prisons.

We thank Allison Thornton (Koch Thornton LLP), assisted by Amy Slotek, for excellent representation of CCLA in this Inquest.

CCLA Calls on Police Services Board to Stop Racial Profiling and Carding

By on December 13, 2013

On November 18th, 2013, CCLA participated in a special community meeting held by the Toronto Police Services Board on racial profiling and carding.  The Board heard from 23 deputations on the Toronto Police Service’s PACER report, and on the response to it by Board Chair Dr. Mukherjee.

CCLA’s submissions called for an end to the practice of carding (or “street checks”) and the implementation of concrete measures to address race-based harassment.  Concrete measures should include:

  • a policy that sets out specific guidelines a to when police may stop and question individuals;
  • a policy that recognizes power imbalances between police officers and the individuals they stop;
  • accountability tools such as providing a carbon copy of (most of the) data recorded to the individual stopped; and
  • the creation of an independent external civilian oversight body.

To read CCLA’s submissions to the Board, click here.

Who Guards the Guards: Prisons and Public Accountability – Public Lecture with Prof. Andrew Coyle

By on November 13, 2013

This October, CCLA invited Prof. Andrew Coyle to Toronto to testify as an expert witness at the Ashley Smith Inquest. Prof. Coyle is Professor Emeritus of Prison Studies in the School of Law, King’s College, University of London. Between 1997 and 2005 he was Director of the International Centre for Prison Studies in the same School of Law. Prior to that he was for 25 years a prison director in the prison services of the United Kingdom, where he governed four major prisons. He holds a PhD in criminology from the Faculty of Law in the University of Edinburgh. He has been an adviser on prison matters to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Latin American Institute, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, The World Health Organisation, the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

On Wednesday, October 23, 2013 members of the public, specialists and professionals from the field of corrections, students and faculty from a diverse range of disciplines, including criminology, social work, law and social sciences, gathered at Ryerson University to hear Prof. Coyle speak. The public lecture was co-hosted by CCLA and the Ryerson University Criminology Department, and was entitled, “Who Guards the Guards: Prisons and Public Accountability.”

Download a summary of Prof. Coyle’s presentation here.

The Ashley Smith Inquest Resumes

By on September 10, 2013
In October 2007, Ashley Smith died tragically at the age of 19 inside her prison cell after tying a ligature around her neck, while prison guards – instructed not to intervene before she stopped breathing – watched. A public inquest into her death began in January 2013. Inquests are always held when an inmate dies in custody. Inquests serve to determine the facts surrounding a person’s death and, where possible, to prevent similar deaths from occurring.

Ms. Smith’s experience in the Canadian corrections system raises key civil liberties issues. CCLA is participating as a party in the inquest to address these issues, and to ensure that there is a full public accounting of the circumstances surrounding her death and that meaningful recommendations are made for improvement in the Canadian corrections system.

The Ashley Smith Inquest Resumes

After a two month summer recess, the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith resumes this week in Toronto.  Ms. Smith died tragically at the age of 19 inside her cell at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, after spending many months in segregation (solitary confinement). Prior to her death, she spent time in a number of federal and provincial correctional facilities and struggled with mental health issues while incarcerated.  The young woman died after tying a ligature around her neck while guards, instructed not to intervene before she stopped breathing, watched.

Since January 2013, details surrounding Ms. Smith’s experience in federal custody have been publicly revealed at the inquest. Ms. Smith was transferred 17 times over her eleven and a half months in federal custody, spending time in correctional and psychiatric facilities run by or on contract with the Correctional Service of Canada. Throughout her custody in both the youth and adult correctional systems, she remained largely on segregation status (solitary confinement) with little or no opportunity for meaningful human contact. Jurors have heard evidence that Ms. Smith’s behaviour demonstrated many of the harmful effects documented in studies on prolonged solitary confinement.

Prior the summer recess, the five person jury heard from front line officers and middle managers involved in her management, and nursing staff, psychologists and psychiatrists involved in her care.  In addition to the former warden and deputy warden in charge of Grand Valley Institution at the time Ms. Smith died, a number of senior managers from the regional and national headquarters are set to testify this fall. It is hoped that their testimony will provide key answers as to who was managing Ashley’s case, who was responsible for her well-being, what was the origin of the instruction not to enter her cell until she stopped breathing.

Ms. Smith’s experience in the corrections system raises a number of serious civil liberties issues, including questions regarding the use of solitary confinement in modern penal systems, and the role that meaningful and transparent oversight mechanisms should play to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of inmates – including their right to life and security of the person.  The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is participating in the inquest as a party to address these and other key civil liberties concerns and to ensure that there is a full public accounting of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Smith’s death and that meaningful recommendations for change in the Canadian corrections system are made.

CCLA is represented at the Inquest by Allison Thornton of Koch Thornton LLP and Amy Slotek, Legal Counsel.

The inquest is open to the public and proceedings of the inquest are being broadcast live via webcam and are available at the following link.

Read more about our past work on this issue:

June 2013

May 2013

March 2013

January 2013

Previous work on the Ashley Smith case, and the use of solitary confinement

For media inquiries, please contact:

Allison Thornton, special counsel for CCLA at the Inquest, a partner at Koch Thornton LLP

email:    allison.thornton@ktbarristers.com

phone: 416-216-0225

(In the alternative, please contact Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Director of CCLA’s Equality Program, at mendelsohnaviv@ccla.org or 647-780-9802)

CCLA Urges Toronto Police Services Board to End Random Street Checks and Reject Delays

By on July 4, 2013

CCLA has provided submissions to the Toronto Police Services Board, urging the Board to put a stop to the police practice of random “street checks” (also known as carding).  In addition, CCLA objected to delays in the provision of data and reports on these topics to the Board, given that this information is needed for transparency and accountability with respect to police practices and concerns about racial profiling.

CCLA has been before the Toronto Police Services Board numerous times in the past year to address concerns about racial profiling, and continues to call for an end to random stops, and better tools for transparency and accountability with respect to police conduct.

To read CCLA’s latest submissions, click here.

The Ashley Smith Inquest: 5 Months In

By on June 17, 2013
In October 2007, Ashley Smith died tragically at the age of 19 inside her prison cell at the Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener after tying a ligature around her neck, while prison guards – instructed not to intervene before she stopped breathing – watched.

A public inquest into her death began in January 2013. Inquests are held when an inmate dies in custody and serve to determine the facts surrounding the inmate’s death and, where possible, to prevent similar deaths from occurring.

Ms. Smith’s experience in the Canadian corrections system raises key civil liberties issues. CCLA is participating in the inquest as a party to address these issues and to ensure that there is a full public accounting of the circumstances surrounding her death and that meaningful recommendations for improvement in the Canadian corrections system are made.

The Ashley Smith Inquest: 5 Months In

The inquest into the death of Ashley Smith concludes its fifth month with testimony from middle  managers who were employed at Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener during her two periods of incarceration there.

Since the beginning of the inquest, numerous front line correctional officers have testified that they were instructed by their supervisors not to enter Ms. Smith’s cell to remove ligatures tied around her neck, as long as she was breathing.  This past month, one middle manager testified that this instruction came from his superiors – these individuals have not yet testified, but are expected to appear when the inquest resumes in September.

Over the past five months details surrounding Ms. Smith’s experience in federal custody have been publicly revealed at the inquest. Ms. Smith was transferred 17 times over her eleven and a half months in federal custody, spending time in correctional and psychiatric facilities run by or on contract with the Correctional Service of Canada. Throughout her custody in both the youth and adult correctional systems, she remained largely on segregation status (solitary confinement) with little or no opportunity for meaningful human contact. Jurors have heard evidence that Ms. Smith’s behaviour demonstrated many of the harmful effects documented in studies on prolonged solitary confinement.

The jury have been presented with evidence that Ms. Smith was subject to physical and chemical restraints, and forced to undergo body cavity searches without her consent during her incarceration in federal custody. In May, video evidence was introduced to the jury which shows Ms. Smith surrounded by guards in riot gear and restrained to a gurney at Joliette Institution in Quebec. During the video, Ms. Smith is shown being injected five times during a seven hour period on July 22, 2007.  Extensive evidence was also introduced regarding two alleged assaults perpetrated against Ms. Smith by correctional staff during her time at the Regional Psychiatric Centre (RPC) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. A number of staff members, including Ms. Smith’s treating psychiatrist and the lead investigator into the incidents, noted their concerns that Ms. Smith would be subject to retaliation in response to the fact that she had spoken out against staff for alleged assaults against her. Shortly after the incident she was transferred out of RPC.

Ms. Smith’s experience in the corrections system raises a number of serious civil liberties issues, including questions regarding the use of solitary confinement in modern penal systems, and the role that meaningful and transparent oversight mechanisms should play to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of inmates.  The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is participating in the inquest as a party to address these and other key civil liberties concerns and to ensure that there is a full public accounting of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Smith’s death and that meaningful recommendations for change in the Canadian corrections system are made.

The inquest will break in July and August for a summer recess period and will resume in early September 2013. Please stay tuned for further updates in the fall regarding the inquest on our website.

CCLA is represented at the Inquest by Allison Thornton of Koch Thornton LLP.

The inquest is open to the public and proceedings of the inquest are being broadcast live via webcam and are available at the following link.

Read more about our past work on this issue:

May 2013

March 2013

January 2013

Previous work on the Ashley Smith case, and the use of solitary confinement

For media inquiries, please contact:

Allison Thornton, special counsel for CCLA at the Inquest, a partner at Koch Thornton LLP

email:    allison.thornton@ktbarristers.com

phone: 416-216-0225

(In the alternative, please contact Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Director of CCLA’s Equality Program, at mendelsohnaviv@ccla.org or 647-780-9802)

Update on the Ashley Smith Inquest – May 2013

By on May 21, 2013
Ashley Smith died tragically at the age of 19 inside her prison cell after tying a ligature around her neck, while prison guards – instructed not to intervene before she stopped breathing – watched. This took place in 2007 at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener.  There is an inquest into her death.  Public inquests are held when an inmate dies in custody and serve to determine the facts surrounding the inmate’s death and, where possible, to prevent similar deaths from occurring.  Ms. Smith’s experience in the Canadian corrections system raises key civil liberties issues. CCLA is participating in the inquest as a party to address these issues and ensure that there is a full public accounting of the circumstances surrounding her death and that meaningful recommendations for improvement in the Canadian corrections system are made.

An Update on The Ashley Smith Inquest

The inquest into the death of Ashley Smith continued this past week with testimony from health care employees who were employed at Joliette Institution in Quebec during her two short periods of incarceration there, a number of whom injected Ms. Smith with anti-psychotic medication without her consent. Video evidence which shows Ms. Smith being injected five times during a seven hour period on July 22, 2007 while restrained to a gurney as she is surrounded by guards in riot gear was also introduced.

Since the beginning of the inquest into the young woman’s death in custody, the five person jury have heard testimony from front line correctional officers and health care professionals regarding Ms. Smith’s treatment throughout her eleven and a half months in federal corrections.  Ms. Smith was transferred 17 times over her eleven and a half months in federal custody, spending time in correctional and psychiatric facilities run by or on contract with the Correctional Service of Canada. Throughout her custody in both the youth and adult correctional systems, she remained largely on segregation status (solitary confinement) with little or no opportunity for meaningful human contact.  Jurors have heard evidence that Ms. Smith’s behaviour demonstrated many of the harmful effects documented in studies on prolonged solitary confinement.

Extensive evidence was introduced regarding two alleged assaults perpetrated against Ms. Smith by correctional staff during her time at the Regional Psychiatric Centre (RPC) in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  A number of staff members, including Ms. Smith’s treating psychiatrist and the lead investigator into the incidents, noted their concerns that Ms. Smith would be subject to retaliation in response to the allegations. Shortly after the incident she was transferred out of RPC.

Ms. Smith’s experience in the corrections system raises a number of serious civil liberties issues, including questions regarding the use of solitary confinement in modern penal systems, and the role that meaningful and transparent oversight mechanisms should play to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of inmates.  The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is participating in the inquest as a party to address these and other key civil liberties concerns and to ensure that there is a full public accounting of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Smith’s death and that meaningful recommendations for change in the Canadian corrections system are made.

The inquest will continue until June 27th and will break in July and August for a summer recess period. Please stay tuned for further updates regarding the inquest on our website.

CCLA is represented at the Inquest by Allison Thornton of Koch Thornton LLP.

The inquest is open to the public and proceedings of the inquest are being broadcast live via webcam and are available at the following link.

Click here to read more about our past work on this issue

For media inquiries, please contact:

Allison Thornton, special counsel for CCLA at the Inquest, a partner at Koch Thornton LLP

email:    allison.thornton@ktbarristers.com

phone: 416-216-0225

(In the alternative, please contact Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Director of CCLA’s Equality Program, at mendelsohnaviv@ccla.org or 647-780-9802)

 

An Update on the Ashley Smith Inquest

By on March 13, 2013
Ashley Smith died tragically at the age of 19 inside her cell at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener in 2007 after tying a ligature around her neck while guards, instructed not to intervene before she stopped breathing, watched. Public inquests are held when an inmate dies in custody and serve to determine the facts surrounding the inmate’s death and, where possible, to prevent similar deaths from occurring.  Ms. Smith’s experience in the Canadian corrections system raises key civil liberties issues. CCLA is participating in the inquest as a party to address these issues and ensure that there is a full public accounting of the circumstances surrounding her death and that meaningful recommendations for improvement in the Canadian corrections system are made.

The inquest into the death of Ashley Smith continued last week with testimony from a psychologist who worked with Ms. Smith at the Nova Institute for Women in Truro, Nova Scotia, during her two periods of incarceration there. Since the beginning of the inquest into the young woman’s death in custody, the five person jury have heard testimony from a number of correctional officers who worked directly with Ms. Smith and who were present the day she died.

The jury has also heard testimony from Coralee Smith, Ms. Smith’s mother, who spoke of the anguish of losing her daughter and of the many financial, bureaucratic and logistical barriers she faced in attempting to maintain contact with her daughter during her incarceration. Ms. Smith was transferred 17 times over her eleven and a half months in federal custody and spent the majority of her custody in the youth and adult correctional systems in solitary confinement. Jurors have also heard evidence that Ms. Smith’s behaviour demonstrated many of the harmful effects documented in studies on prolonged solitary confinement.

Ms. Smith’s experience in the corrections system raise a number of serious civil liberties issues, including questions regarding the use of solitary confinement in modern penal systems, and the role that meaningful and transparent oversight mechanisms should play to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of inmates.  The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is participating in the inquest as a party to address these and other key civil liberties concerns and to ensure that there is a full public accounting of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Smith’s death and that meaningful recommendations for change in the Canadian corrections system are made. CCLA has experience in advocating for adequate oversight of government and authorities, and accountability mechanisms, to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all people, including the right to life.

The inquest will resume on March 25th. Please stay tuned for further updates regarding the inquest on our website.

CCLA is represented at the Inquest by Allison Thornton of Koch Thornton LLP.

The inquest is open to the public and proceedings of the inquest are being broadcast live via webcam and are available at the following link.

Click here to read more about our past work on this issue

For media inquiries, please contact:

Allison Thornton, special counsel for CCLA at the Inquest, a partner at Koch Thornton LLP

email:    allison.thornton@ktbarristers.com

phone: 416-216-0225

(In the alternative, please contact Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Director of CCLA’s Equality Program, at mendelsohnaviv@ccla.org or 647-780-9802)

 

First Nations Child and Family Caring Society Human Rights Complaint can Proceed, Federal Court of Appeal Decides

By on March 11, 2013

CCLA welcomes the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal in the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (FNCS) v. Canada decision released today.   The complaint by FNCS  alleges that the federal government has discriminated against First Nations children on reserve by under-funding child welfare services provided to them.  The federal government argued that their funding of these services could not be discriminatory, as they did not provide comparable funding to any other children in Canada.  FNCS, the Assembly of First Nations, Chiefs of Ontario, Amnesty International, and the Canadian Human Rights Commission were parties in the case.  These parties disagreed with the government’s position. CCLA intervened to ensure that a purposive understanding of equality was maintained in line with equality jurisprudence. The Federal Court of Appeal supported such a conclusion.  The human rights complaint on the merits is proceeding at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

CCLA was represented at the Federal Court of Appeal by Chris Wayland and Steven Tanner of McCarthys.

To read the decision, click here.

To read CCLA”s factum click here

For more on the human rights complaint, the history of the complaint, its progress, legal documents and more, click here.