Toronto Star reporter Amy Dempsey published “Jails flouting new rules on solitary” in the paper’s June 22 edition.
Christina Jahn spent more than 200 days in solitary during 2011 and 2012 at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, without help for cancer or mental illness. In a 2013 financial settlement with Jahn, Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services also committed to updating its prisoner handbook to include the rights of inmates in solitary, and to proactively distribute the handbook to them. Jahn had refused a cash settlement alone, and insisted that remedies had to be part of any agreement because she hoped it would improve conditions for other inmates.
The terms of the remedies are mandatory. Nevertheless, when the Toronto Star reviewed the updated 30 page document it found a glaring omission: it contained no information about the rights of prisoners in solitary which was central to the required update. As a result, the ministry agreed to a separate handout for inmates sent to segregation, and was to begin distribution in March of 2015 while the handbook was in another revision.
Despite direct orders from the ministry, some Ontario jails are failing to follow instructions.
And so, for the second time the ministry has been accused of breaching the terms of its agreement with Jahn. Her lawyers are taking legal action against the province and asking the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to declare that MCSCS has contravened the settlement by not taking the required actions, and is seeking $1,500 damages for each alleged violation.
In the meantime, Jahn’s cancer is now terminal, and she is not available for comment.
We’ve added an observation of our own:-
June 23, 2015
Steven Small, Assistant Deputy Minister,
Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services,
George Drew Building, 25 Grosvenor Street,
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6
Re: Jails flouting new rules on solitary, inmates say
Toronto Star, Amy Dempsey, June 22, 2015
Deputy Minister Small:
From your March 23 memo to Ontario jail superintendents, referring to the segregation handout:
“(It) is mandatory that all inmates being placed into segregation be provided with this handout effective immediately.”
Well, I can tell you that as of this week, inmates moved into segregation at the Toronto South Detention Centre are NOT getting this handout.
What’s more, inmates in provincial institutions are often angered by activists like me when speaking about policies that are not followed. What we don’t get, it’s been claimed, is that rules and regulations, policies and procedures….and even the law…..mean nothing to any number of MCSCS front-line staffers. They do as they please….with impunity.
They do as they please because management will not manage, and the Ministry’s priority is to keep the lid on whatever might disturb the peace.