CCLA Court Challenge To Solitary Confinement: The Next Step

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association today filed their written brief to the Ontario Court of Appeal, as part of its ongoing efforts to stop the unconscionable federal practice of indefinite solitary confinement, particularly of the indigenous and mentally ill. The written arguments include graphic evidence of the horrors of solitary confinement:

The cells are tiny and sometimes windowless. The inmate is locked in for 22 hours. There is no meaningful  human contact [1] :

In the moments when all I had was my stress and depression, I would go deep into my thoughts. I would remember everybody who showed hate to me […] And I would think; if I could do things over, I would just end my life. The longer I spent isolated, the more I started to feel like I wasn’t really human. […] I started to feel like I was an animal. The days started to run together. I had no way of knowing for how long I would be in segregation. I just wanted to give up on life and I came very close to doing so. On several occasions, I made a noose and planned to take my life, before deciding against it.[2]

Many try to escape through suicide, and too many succeed [3]:

I could hear him through the walls. He was crying and begging to be released. I felt bad for him so when the guards came around, I warned them that I thought he might do something to himself. Then, he started to give stuff away to the people in the cells around him. That’s when I knew it was really bad. One night, he strung himself up to the cover of the smoke detector using bed sheets. It took him a long time to die. I could hear him gagging and choking. It felt like forever. The guards didn’t come around to cut him down until the next morning… This made me angry and deeply sad. 

“Stop the torture. Withdraw the appeal in BC, and fix the federal bill that continues to authorize indefinite solitary confinement,” said Michael Bryant.

The factum can be found here.

[1] Decision, Appellant’s Appeal Book and Compendium [ABC], Tab 4, at para. 252: the Trial Judge held that segregated inmates’ contact with Correctional Service of Canada personnel is “perfunctory”. See e.g., Photo of Cell, ABC, Tab 8; Photo of Cell at Collins Bay, ABC, Tab 9; Photo of Meal at Collins Bay, ABC, Tab 10; Photo from Toronto Star, ABC, Tab 11.
[2] Affidavit of J.R., sworn April 20, 2017, ABC, Tab 12, at paras. 25-27, 34-36.
[3] Annual Report of OCI June 26, 2015, ABC, Tab 13; Affidavit of T.N., sworn April 21, 2017, ABC, Tab 14; Affidavit of J.H., sworn April 20, 2017, ABC, Tab 15; Affidavit of J.R., sworn April 20, 2017, ABC, Tab 12.
[4] Affidavit of T.N., sworn April 21, 2017, ABC, Tab 14, at para. 34.
Caroline Hill