TORONTO – The Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dube, today called on the province to carry out a reform of its faulty system placement and monitoring prison inmates , In the wake of its latest survey revealing many problems that pose a risk to vulnerable people.
The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has repeatedly pledged to limit and examine the use of inmate segregation in correctional facilities in the province, but its progress has been “slow and incomplete” Dube in its new report, entitled the forgotten monitoring .
Isolation must be clearly defined, strictly limited, rigorously monitored and publicly reported, says Dube in the 32 recommendations of his report.
The Ombudsman’s investigation concluded that not only many of the detainees are held in solitary confinement for much longer than 15 days – which the United Nations considers “cruel, inhuman and degrading” – but many of these Subject to adequate monitoring or review.
As a result, the Department could not produce reliable statistics on segregation, let alone verify that each of these investments was justified, said Dube. His Office alerted the Department of similar problems for the first time four years ago.
Each year, the Office of the Ombudsman receives approximately 4,000 complaints about correctional facilities. From 1 st March 2013 to 31 in 2017, 827 complaints were received about the isolation. Although the Department has resolved several individual cases and committed to a “thorough review” of its isolation policy in 2015, complaints continued to increase, Dube said, who also presented recommendations for reform During the consultations conducted by the Department in the spring of 2016.
In October 2016, the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission discovered during a visit to Thunder Bay Prison that 24-year-old prisoner Adam Capay had been in solitary confinement for more than four years – Which was not reflected in the Department’s statistics – the Ombudsman dispatched investigators to the scene to investigate the detainee’s situation.
“The facts they found were very worrying, and in conjunction with the large number of complaints we received, they confirmed that the use of solitary confinement was still a serious systemic problem,” Dube said. Announced his major survey in December 2016. “After following the issue for years and seeing the Department undertake a series of reviews, I concluded that the time for gradual change and the launch of new studies was over. “
Ombudsman investigators visited four correctional facilities in the province, interviewed dozens of officials, inmates and others, and reviewed policies and practices in other jurisdictions.
Here are some of the key issues they have identified:
In Ontario, the policy does not clearly define “isolation” but refers to this term as a “place” where the inmates are placed, rather than the conditions of their confinement.
The definitions of “continuous” and “isolation” vary from one institution to another, which leads to inaccuracies in the follow-up of inmate investments that are transferred between institutions.
Prison staff are confronted with a system that is confusing and redundant in the input of data, so that inmate files often include mistakes that go unnoticed.
Many inmates in segregation have mental health and intellectual disabilities, but correctional officials do not have more relevant options to accommodate them.
Because of the inaccuracy of the data, inmates are lost in the system, deprived of the supervision to which they are entitled, because their placements are not subject to the required examinations.
When the Department conducts examinations, they are often superficial.
“Theoretically, an inmate should be placed in solitary confinement as a last resort, once all other options have been exhausted. In practice, the policy’s modalities are often ignored,” Dube said in the report. For example, since September 2015, whenever an inmate is in solitary confinement for more than 60 days, within a 12-month period, a detailed report is supposed to be sent to departmental officials, including potential adverse effects on the detained. The Ombudsman’s investigation revealed that no such report was ever made.
In addition to codifying the definition of “isolation” in the legislation, the Ombudsman makes several recommendations to improve the resources, training and technology for monitoring inmates’ placements, and to allow for the analysis and annual publication of Data on inmates placed in segregation. The Ombudsman also reiterates the recommendation he made for the first time in May 2016, requesting that the Department create an independent panel to review all segregated placements.
“External observers outside the culture of the correctional environment would be able to objectively apply the criteria of isolation and to ensure that isolation is only used as a last resort,” said Dube .
The Ombudsman’s report includes a response from the Department, saying how he has responded to each of the recommendations so far. The Department committed to report its progress to the Ombudsman every six months. Mr. Dube also provided his report to Mr. Howard Sapers, a former Correctional Investigator of Canada, whom the Department appointed in November 2016 to conduct an independent review of the use of segregation and the correctional system.
Source: Ombudsman Ontario