File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS A solitary confinement cell is shown in a handout photo from the Office of the Correctional Investigator. leading civil liberties group says a judge has denied a request to delay a lawsuit that challenges the use of indefinite solitary confinement in federal prisons.

Solitary confinement suit to proceed without delay

VANCOUVER — A leading civil liberties group says a judge has denied a request to delay a lawsuit that challenges the use of indefinite solitary confinement in federal prisons.

The Attorney General of Canada asked the Supreme Court of British Columbia to adjourn the trial scheduled to begin next Tuesday after the federal government introduced legislation that would restrict the use of solitary confinement.

But the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association says the court has decided the case should go ahead as scheduled.

The association and the John Howard Society of Canada are co-plaintiffs in the case and argued the amendments introduced by Ottawa do not comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Once passed, the bill would impose for the first time a so-called legislative framework establishing a time limit for what prison officials call administrative segregation.

It was introduced after several high-profile solitary confinement cases, including the 2007 death of Ashley Smith of Moncton, N.B., an emotionally disturbed 19-year-old who died in custody after tying a strip of cloth around her neck.

Caily DiPuma, the civil liberties association’s acting litigation director, says legal experts have been recommending changes to the way solitary confinement is used for decades.

“The court recognized that the concerns we raise in our lawsuit deserve to be heard,” she said in a statement. “The government has repeatedly failed to address the problems with solitary confinement and now a court will have the opportunity to weigh in on the constitutionality of the current regime.”

A coroner’s inquest into Smith’s death ended in 2012 with 104 recommendations, including a call to end to “indefinite solitary confinement’” and the use of segregation beyond 15 days for female inmates with mental-health issues.

Shortly after taking office in 2015, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ordered Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to take a second look at the Smith inquest’s recommendations as part of her mandate to implement criminal justice reforms.

Administrative segregation is used when there is no reasonable alternative to maintain the safety and security of the institution, staff and inmates. It differs from disciplinary segregation, which is applied to inmates who are found guilty of a serious offence in custody.

The Correctional Service of Canada is also amending its policy to outlaw the practice in cases involving serious mental disorders or prisoners who are certified, those who are engaged in “self-injury” and those at risk of suicide.

Under the current law, the Correctional Service is required to release prisoners from administrative segregation at the earliest possible time. The new law would establish an initial time limit of 21 days, and then 15 days once the legislation has been enacted in law for 18 months.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Influenza claims two more in Central Alberta

Since flu season began four months ago 16 have died in Central Alberta

Relatives of murdered family critical of killers’ sentences

Open letter to sentencing judge criticizes ruling allowing killers to apply for parole in 25 years

City rolling out Green Carts

Green Carts used for organics, such as yard waste, food scraps and pet waste

Updated: Red Deer gets WHL Bantam Draft and Awards Banquet

WHL will holds its draft and awards ceremony in Red Deer for next three years

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Ottawa vows legislation allowing firms to settle corporate corruption

OTTAWA — The Canadian government is vowing to introduce legislation for corporate… Continue reading

‘Lost Tapes’ series examines Malcolm X through rare footage

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Malcolm X was reviled and adored during his lifetime… Continue reading

Woe, Canada: Germany ousts Canada 4-3

GANGNEUNG, Korea, Republic Of — Germany has knocked Canada out of the… Continue reading

Twenty years later, figure skating’s most famous backflip remains amazing (and illegal)

Figure skating involves spins, jumps, twizzles and a whole host of other… Continue reading

You don’t need to chop like a TV chef to get the job done

Standing in line at the emergency room, makeshift bandage around my finger,… Continue reading

Seychelles swaps debt for groundbreaking marine protection

CURIEUSE ISLAND, Seychelles — With deep blue waters, white sand beaches and… Continue reading

Trump endorses raising minimum age to 21 for more weapons

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump endorsed stricter gun-control measures Thursday, including raising… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month