July 6, 2021
In June 2021, the Correctional Service of Canada (“CSC”) invited dozens of community organizations to a “consultation” regarding Structured Intervention Units (“SIUs”) – highly restrictive prison units that subject individuals to prolonged, indefinite solitary confinement.
Entering the consultation, CSC had a fixed agenda. Concerns about the narrow scope of the consultation were largely ignored, and well-documented failings of SIUs were not addressed.
A number of the consultation attendees, as well as other community organizations and advocates, have signed an open letter criticizing the “consultation” and calling on the federal government to take immediate action to end the torture in Canada’s federal prisons.
The full text of the letter is below, and the press release is here. Individuals or organizations can sign the letter here.
Commissioner Anne Kelly
340 Laurier Avenue West
July 6, 2021
On June 17th and 18th 2021, dozens of community stakeholders were invited by the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) to participate in a consultation on Structured Intervention Units in federal prisons in Canada.
Entering the consultation, CSC had a fixed agenda. None of the undersigned organizations were consulted regarding the topics to be discussed, and no community stakeholders were given the opportunity to add items for discussion. Concerns about the narrow scope of the consultation were largely ignored, and well-documented failings of SIUs were not addressed. When stakeholders attempted to raise concerns, they were redirected by Commissioner Anne Kelly back to CSC’s pre-determined agenda.
Absent from this consultation, then, were fundamental and urgent matters requiring immediate action by CSC and the Federal Government, including:
- ending the practice of solitary confinement wherever feasible – and prohibiting prolonged use of solitary confinement in its entirety
- provision of real alternatives to SIU other than return to maximum security, including transfers to lower security, healing lodges and treatment centres
- implementing effective, independent oversight for the SIUs
- granting public access to information from CSC on the operation of SIUs
- addressing the lack of access to SIU inmates by non-government service providers
- immediately re-establishing the Independent Advisory Panel, an SIU oversight body
Without addressing these issues, these stakeholder engagements cannot be seen as anything more than a “check-box” – a mechanism to enable CSC to state publicly that they had consulted with stakeholders.
We urge the government (CSC) to turn its attention and efforts to open discussion of these matters and to resolving them without delay.
The John Howard Society of Canada*
The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies*
Canadian Civil Liberties Association*
Prisoners’ Legal Services*
Vicki Chartrand, Centre for Justice Exchange*
Kim Beaudin, Congress of Aboriginal Peoples*
Richard Sauve, St. Leonard’s Society*
Lana Robinson, Clerk, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)*
Volunteers, Millhaven Lifers Liaison Group
Kathy Ferreira, Queen’s Prison Law Clinic
Rev. Dr. Carol Finlay, Book Clubs for Inmates
Mary Campbell, Independent Expert
John T. Clinton (retired), Saint Leonard’s Society Hamilton
Haleigh Prevost, Advocate
Katie Stevens, Registered Social Worker
Darlene MacEachern, Executive Director, Elizabeth Fry Society of Cape Breton
Philip O’Donnell, SSW
Marlene MacDonald, Concerned Citizen
Jessica Bristowe, Manager, Elizabeth Fry Society of Greater Vancouver
Denise Durette, Women’s Support Worker, Elizabeth Fry Society N.B.
Quinn Saretsky, Executive Director, The Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba
Kathryn Londry, Executive Director, Elizabeth Fry Kingston
Liz MacBeth, Private Sponsorship of Refugees Coordinator
Kate Engel, Lawyer and CAEFS Regional Advocate
Kara Menard, Educator, Elizabeth Fry Society of Northeastern Ontario
Diane Serre, Manager of Community Programs and Services, The Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa
Sarah Callaghan, Addictions Counsellor, Elizabeth Fry
Rebeccah, Residential Staff, Elizabeth Fry Society
Zoe West, Program Coordinator, Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa
Suzy Racine, Residential Support Worker, The Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa
* Indicates that the individual or organizations attended the June 17/18 consultation
About the Canadian Civil Liberties Association
The CCLA is an independent, non-profit organization with supporters from across the country. Founded in 1964, the CCLA is a national human rights organization committed to defending the rights, dignity, safety, and freedoms of all people in Canada.
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