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B.C. Appeal Court gives Ottawa until mid-June to fix solitary confinement law

Josh Paterson from the BCCLA discusses the BC appeals court ruling that allows the federal government 6 more months to fix its law on solitary confinement.

VANCOUVER – The British Columbia Court of Appeal has given the federal government more time to fix its solitary confinement law after a lower court declared the law unconstitutional last year.

The B.C. Supreme Court ruling last January gave Ottawa a year to enact replacement legislation, and the Appeal Court has now extended the deadline to June 17, with conditions to protect prisoners’ constitutional rights in the meantime.

READ MORE: Ottawa allowed 4-month reprieve to amend solitary confinement law struck down as unconstitutional

Those conditions include that health-care professionals must complete daily visual observations of inmates in solitary confinement and advise the institutional head within 24 hours if they believe the inmate must be removed from segregation.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society of Canada launched the legal challenge, and the two groups also oppose a bill introduced in October.

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WATCH: (Aired May 14, 2018) Civil rights activists call on Liberal government to end indefinite solitary confinement

Civil rights activists call on Liberal government to end indefinite solitary confinement
Civil rights activists call on Liberal government to end indefinite solitary confinement

Bill C-83 would allow segregated prisoners to spend four hours a day outside their cells, with a minimum of two hours to interact with others, but it does not include hard caps on how many days  or months prisoners could be isolated from the general population.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association launched a separate case against solitary confinement in Ontario, and the Court of Appeal in that province has given the federal government until April 30 to enact new legislation.

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