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Crime

Edmonton inmates file $5.6M lawsuit over 43-day solitary confinement

The Edmonton Institution is a maximum security facility for male offenders in northeast Edmonton.
The Edmonton Institution is a maximum security facility for male offenders in northeast Edmonton. File/Global News

Three Edmonton Institution inmates have launched a $5.6-million lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada after they say they were placed in segregation for 43 consecutive days over the summer.

According to a statement of claim filed on Oct. 25, Matthew Hamm, 37, Taylor Tobin, 19, and Shawn Keepness, 31, were placed in “involuntary administrative segregation” on June 30, 2016 because of a belief they were planning to harm or assault correctional officers. They claim the segregation was unlawful and procedurally unfair.

“The segregation suffered by the plaintiffs was cruel and unusual punishment,” the statement of claim reads.

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“The placement of the plaintiffs in segregation was unreasonable and the punishment suffered in segregation was grossly disproportionate to the purported offence.”

The inmates were released from segregation on Aug. 10, after a successful application to the court.

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In an Aug. 9 decision, Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Joanne Veit said the decision to place and keep the inmates in segregation was unreasonable, procedurally unfair and unlawful. She ordered the three men be returned to the general population at the prison, a maximum-security institution for inmates serving terms of two years or more.

According to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, the longest an inmate can be in involuntary administrative segregation is 30 days.

The lawsuit also claims Hamm and Tobin were denied appropriate mental health care and Tobin and Keepness were denied access to their spiritual rights while in segregation.

Each inmate is seeking $1.873 million plus damages. None of the allegations has been proven in court.