Court Holds Prolonged and Indefinite Solitary Confinement is Unconstitutional

Today the Court of Appeal of British Columbia upheld the trial judge’s order that ss. 31–33 and 37 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, S.C. 1992, c. 20 unjustifiably infringe s. 7 of the Charter which protects the rights to life, liberty and security of the person. Those provisions are of no force and effect because they authorize indefinite and prolonged administrative segregation in conditions that constitute solitary confinement, and authorize internal rather than external review of decisions to segregate inmates in solitary confinement. 

The Court also found that there had been discrimination against mentally ill and indigenous inmates, contrary to s. 15 of the Charter which protects equality. The Court made declarations that Corrections has, in its implementation of the administrative segregation provisions: breached its obligation under the Act to give meaningful consideration to the health care needs of mentally ill and/or disabled inmates before placing or confirming the placement of such inmates in segregation; and breached its obligation under the Act to ensure that inmates placed in administrative segregation are given a reasonable opportunity to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to do so in private.

The successful respondents were represented by Joseph Arvay, Q.C. and Alison M. Latimer.

To read the full judgment, click here.