Great! But, will they comply?

“Liberals to curtail solitary confinement” ran over Patrick White’s byline in the Globe and Mail’s Saturday, November 14 edition. The story was subtitled, “Trudeau directs Justice Minister ban long-term isolation and implement recommendations from inquest into Ashley Smith’s death.”

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society filed a January suit claiming solitary confinement contributes to prisoners’ deaths, indiscriminately targets mentally ill and aboriginal inmates, and is unconstitutional. Separately, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies also filed a lawsuit asserting the federal practice is unconstitutional.

Don Head, Correctional Service Canada Commissioner, denied federal prisons use ‘solitary confinement’ when he testified last March at a Senate Committee hearing into the death of Edward Snowshoe. Mr. Head is full of bovine excrement! A short letter copied below tells him so.

The move would bring Canada into line with guidelines set down by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, and the direction both the United Kingdom and the United States are taking. Needless to say, it also reverses the so-called ‘tough on crime’ agenda of the previous government.

“This is a good start,” according to Howard Sapers, our federal inmate ombudsman. But, like him, before we celebrate an end to our medieval penal practices under a new and enlightened Liberal government, let’s remember that while it is one thing to order change, it may be quite another for a sometimes obstreperous civil service to enthusiastically carry out those orders.

November 18, 2015

Don Head, Commissioner,
Correctional Service Canada,
340 Laurier Avenue West,
Ottawa, ON K1A 0P9

Re: Liberals to curtail solitary confinement
Globe and Mail, Saturday, November 18, 2015

Commissioner Head:

You testified at a Senate Committee hearing last March into the death of federal inmate Edward Snowshoe.

“The term ‘solitary confinement’, which has been used in the medial quite a bit, actually refers to something different than what we do in Canada,” you were quoted by the Globe as saying at this hearing.

Mr. Head, you are full of bovine excrement!

Very truly,

Charles H. Klassen



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