JusticeForSoli Campaign Update - Negligence and non compliance is a recurring theme with Canadian correctional services

Negligence and non compliance is a recurring theme with Canadian correctional services

Negligence and non compliance with policies is a recurring theme with Canadian correctional services and particular prisons in Kingston.

The case of Christina Jahn, a woman with mental health disability, was held in segregation for more than 200 days and mistreated in an Ontario correctional centre. Her case lead to a settlement with the Province whereby Ontario agreed to:

  • A prohibition of segregation for inmates with mental health issues, except in cases where alternatives would cause “undue hardship.”

  • Mental health screening for all inmates upon admission and on an ongoing basis.

  • To more accurately document, review and report on the use of segregation.

In September 2017, five years later, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has said that the Province has repeatedly breached this agreement.

Abuse in Ontario prisons is an epidemic. A recently published article in the LAW times by journalist Shannon Kari talked about the case of James Fontenelle. Correctional Service Canada was found to be negligent in the severe beating of Fontenelle. The court’s decision set precedence that there is “a growing consensus by judges that prisoners do have rights and they are owed a duty of care” according to Toronto-based litigation lawyer James Sayce.

Robert Clark, author of “Down inside,” a book that exposes thirty years in Canada’s prison service when he worked as a deputy warden in Kingston, explains that prisons have been undertaking a punitive rather than rehabilitative model. He also notes that former colleagues have abused prisoners, and that there is unstated code of collegial silence. He stressed that while there are legislated safeguards to protect inmates, they are routinely overlooked.

Soleiman Faqiri was killed under government care on December 15 2016. Soleiman’s stay at the Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay, Ontario was meant to be a temporary measure, yet it ended up being fatal. For Soleiman’s family, other families of victims killed in prisons, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the legal community, the mental health community, and all Ontarians, the inquest into his death is a litmus test as to whether the Province is seriously committed to transparency and reform.

The Justice for Soli Campaign aims to find transparency and accountability, but equally important it seeks to be an agent for true reform.

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