Canada’s correctional investigator, Howard Sapers released his 2014-15 annual report which takes aim at solitary confinement and aboriginal overrepresentation.

Canada’s correctional investigator, Howard Sapers released his 2014-15 annual report which takes aim at solitary confinement and aboriginal overrepresentation.
Photo Credit: Frred Chartrand/Canadian Press

Prison ombudsman calls solitary risky, damaging

Share

In even stronger than ususal tones, Canada’s correctional investigator has again called for limits on the use of solitary confinement in penitentiaries. The investigator is charged with hearing complaints from those incarcerated for more than two years, investigating deaths in custody, and he issues annual reports which look at systemic issues.

‘Segregation is a dangerous place’ for the mentally ill

Solitary confinement, also called segregation, is a special focus of the most recent report. “We have concluded that segregation is a dangerous place for mentally ill or suicidal or self-injuring offenders,” says ombudsman Howard Sapers. His study found that nearly half—14 out of 30—suicides over a three-year period took place in segregation.

“So clearly there are some issues with who is going into segregation, how long they’re staying and the circumstances under which they can be removed from segregation,” says Sapers.

Listen

Limit segregation time for all, says ombudsman

No one diagnosed with a serious mental illness should go into segregation, he says, nor should anyone who is suicidal or has a history of self-harm. He also says no stay in solitary should last more than 30 days and it should not be used “as an alternative to the disciplinary process.”

Indigenous overrepresentation ‘a very sad milestone’

The overrepresentation of indigenous peoples in penitentiaries is also of grave concern to Sapers. “We have reached a very sad milestone in Canada. Our federal prison population is now comprised about 25 per cent of people of aboriginal heritage. Every year their percentage goes up and it’s now more than one in four. That’s a shocking level of overrepresentation. Indigenous Canadians make up about four per cent of the general population.”

Indigenous women make up a third of the women who are incarcerated. While the reasons for that need to be addressed outside the prison system, Sapers says the Correctional Service of Canada has an obligation to treat indigenous inmates in a way that improves their chances of not returning to prison after they have been released.

Recommendations well-received

Health issues are raised in the report including care for inmates with fetal alcohol syndrome and better treatment for those suffering from hepatitis C. Sapers also suggests changes to offender employment, conditions of detention and the resolution of offender complaints.

It appears the government is open to these recommendations. Sapers notes many of them were included in mandate letters that were send by the newly-elected prime minister to his cabinet ministers. He adds the response he has received to his report from the Correctional Service suggest the recommendations are being well received.

Share
Tagged with: , , ,
Posted in Indigenous, Politics, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*