SOURCE: Ombudsman Ontario

Ombudsman Ontario

December 02, 2016 14:30 ET

Ombudsman to investigate segregation process in Ontario jails

TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - December 02, 2016) - Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé today announced an investigation into how the province tracks and reviews the placement of inmates in solitary confinement in its correctional facilities, in light of serious issues raised in an increasing number of complaints.

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has been notified that the investigation will look at how it tracks the admission and continued placement of inmates in segregation in provincial correctional facilities, and the adequacy and effectiveness of the review process for such placements.

In May, in response to the Ministry's public consultations, the Ombudsman made a submission and 28 recommendations to reform the use of segregation, based on his office's work on the issue to date. The submission noted that the Ombudsman's office had alerted the Ministry several times in recent years about correctional facilities not meeting their legal requirements to review and document segregation placements. It cited more than 500 segregation-related complaints in the past three years and called for an end to indefinite solitary confinement.

In fiscal 2015-2016, the Ombudsman received 186 complaints related to segregation; since April 1 this year, it has already received 175. Ombudsman staff also recently visited Thunder Bay jail to look into the widely reported case of Adam Capay, an inmate awaiting trial who spent more than four years in solitary confinement.

"As a fully independent, impartial office that has been investigating thousands of complaints about Ontario correctional facilities for more than 40 years, we are uniquely placed to investigate and comment on this issue," Mr. Dubé said. His office received a total of 4,051 complaints about provincial correctional facilities in 2015-2016.

The Ministry recently announced an independent review of segregation, to be headed by outgoing federal corrections investigator Howard Sapers, beginning in January 2017. "Our investigation, planned before the appointment of the independent reviewer, will not conflict with the work the Ministry has asked Mr. Sapers to do," Mr. Dubé noted. "Rather, we expect that it will enhance that effort."

The investigation will be conducted by the Special Ombudsman Response Team, which is responsible for the office's major field investigations. Among other things, investigators will review statistics, procedures and other documentation related to segregation and visit several institutions. The investigation will be completed as quickly as possible, Mr. Dubé said.

Read the Ombudsman's May 2016 submission on segregation here.

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