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Feds aim to replace solitary confinement in prisons with ‘structured intervention units’

Click to play video: 'Goodale says Bill C-83 an entirely different approach to corrections' Goodale says Bill C-83 an entirely different approach to corrections
WATCH: Ralph Goodale, Canada's Public Safety Minister comments on Bill C-83 saying it takes an entirely different approach to corrections – Oct 16, 2018

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has tabled a new bill in the House of Commons aimed at ridding Canadian prisons of solitary confinement.

Bill C-83 suggests designating “a penitentiary or an area in a penitentiary as a structured intervention unit for the confinement of inmates who cannot be maintained in the mainstream inmate population for security or other reasons.”

The structured intervention units will include programs tailored to an inmate’s need, and allow two hours of “meaningful human contact.”

READ MORE: New Liberal bill will limit solitary confinement for prisoners 

It will also allow for “systemic and background factors unique to Indigenous offenders” to be considered.

The bill comes after court rulings called the long-term use of solitary confinement unconstitutional.

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WATCH: Court rules against indefinite solitary confinement

Click to play video: 'Court rules against indefinite solitary confinement' Court rules against indefinite solitary confinement
Court rules against indefinite solitary confinement – Jan 18, 2018

A major ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court in January 2018 called the practice unconstitutional and said the length of time a person can be in solitary confinement should be limited to no more than 15 days.

In December 2017, an Ontario Superior Court judge also deemed the long-term use of solitary confinement in federal prisons unconstitutional.

A major ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court in January 2018 called the practice unconstitutional and said the length of time a person can be in solitary confinement should be limited to no more than 15 days.

But there is no day limit on these structured integration units; Goodale said that was because it is a whole different approach to separation.

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“The criticism of administrative separation… is that it restricts the offender to two hours a day out of their cell and no meaningful contact with staff and other human beings… and no mental health support,” he explained, adding that the new bill offers more time outside of the cell and meaningful contact with humans.

Goodale was asked how isolating someone for 20 hours a day is dramatically different from previous legislation which allowed isolation for 22 hours a day, but he said the changes were “world leading.”

WATCH: Goodale calls legislation to improve correctional system ‘world leading’

Click to play video: 'Goodale calls legislation to improve correctional system ‘world leading’' Goodale calls legislation to improve correctional system ‘world leading’
Goodale calls legislation to improve correctional system ‘world leading’ – Oct 16, 2018

He also stressed that mental health professionals will have more access to helping inmates, using new programming and the upped cap of four hours a day.

Civil rights groups said they would study the bill carefully to ensure it meets their standards.

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us people will essentially continue under another name,” the BC Civil Liberties Association, Canadian Civil Liberties Association and John Howard Society of Canada said in a joint statement.

Other highlights of the bill include adding the use of body scan imaging technology to help search for contraband and allowing victims to access audio recordings of Parole Board of Canada hearings.

WATCH: ‘Your rights are illusory’ — solitary confinement survivor speaks out

Click to play video: '‘Your rights are illusory’: solitary confinement survivor speaks out' ‘Your rights are illusory’: solitary confinement survivor speaks out
‘Your rights are illusory’: solitary confinement survivor speaks out – May 14, 2018

— with files from Amanda Connolly

 

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