Supreme Court of Canada to hear appeal by feds on solitary confinement

A judge’s gavel beside law books (

The Supreme Court of Canada is going to listen to an appeal made by the federal government on solitary confinement. The appeal is challenging decisions made by B.C. and Ontario courts that deemed prolonged solitary confinement as unconstitutional.

The government has decided to restructure its federal segregation policies to get rid of solitary confinement and introduce what it calls “Structured Intervention Units (SIUs)” to manage inmates who pose a security risk.

In a pair of rulings on Thursday, the high court said it would also hear arguments from civil liberty groups that believe the ruling against solitary confinement did not go far enough.

“The law came into place not that long ago but there are loop holes and policies that are extremely vague,” said Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Director of Equality Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in an interview with The Sheridan Sun.

The Ontario Court of Appeal had placed a 15 day mandate for maximum time in solitary confinement but under the restructured program there is no set limit on how long inmates can be held.

“The federal government is continuing to fight for the right to isolate people for extended periods of time,” says Aviv.

In an interview with the CBC, Alison Latimer, a lawyer representing the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said the new protocols are merely “window dressing.”

The Supreme Court gave no reason as to why it was hearing the appeals.

with files from The Canadian Press