An Ontario judge has ordered the federal government to pay $20 million for placing mentally ill inmates in solitary confinement, with the money earmarked to boost mental health supports in correctional facilities.
In a ruling issued this week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Paul Perell says the Correctional Service of Canada violated the charter rights of thousands of inmates who filed a class-action lawsuit against the agency over its use of administrative segregation.
Perell found those who were involuntarily placed in administrative segregation for more than 30 days, or voluntarily for more than 60, experienced a systemic breach of their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Compensation for individual members of the class has also not yet been determined and submissions will be heard at a future date.
$20M to go to additional resources
The judge says the $20 million will go to “additional mental health or program resources” in the penal system as well as legal fees.
The Correctional Service of Canada did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Administrative segregation is used to maintain security when inmates pose a risk to themselves or others and no reasonable alternative is available.
Ontario’s top court has given federal government until April 30 to fix its solitary confinement law, while B.C.’s has extended the deadline to June 17.
The government has pointed to Bill C-83, now before the Senate, which eliminates administrative segregation and replaces it with “structured intervention units” meant to emphasize “meaningful human contact” for inmates and improve their access to programs and services.