Solitary Confinement: An in-depth discussion with Senator Kim Pate

Administrative Segregation. Special Handling Unit (SHU). The Hole. “The prison within the prison.” Though there is a wide array of names and phrases, solitary confinement has become a major human rights issue within Canada’s correctional landscape. Lawsuits in British Columbia and Ontario spurred the federal government to amend the Correction and Conditional Release Act (aka Bill C-83) to create certain changes to administrative and disciplinary segregation in federal correctional facilities. One of the major changes was the creation of “structured intervention units” and a placement review process overseen by a “commission.” 

In Ontario, as a result of the lawsuit brought by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association on behalf of Adam Capay, the Ontario Court of Appeal capped the number of days an individual can be placed in solitary confinement to 15 days. Justice John Fregau called Adam Capay’s 1647 days in solitary confinement as “prolonged, egregious and intolerable” that violated protections covered under the Charter of Rights of Freedoms.

Recent changes to Ontario’s Class Proceedings Act have the potential to reverse or even remove the imposed cap set by Adam Capay’s appeal. The amendments to the Act were enacted to prevent people from suing the government over policy or spending decisions and can be retroactively apply to tried cases.

Today’s guest is Senator Kim Pate. Kim Pate was appointed to the Senate of Canada on November 10, 2016. She is a nationally renowned advocate who has spent the last 35 years working in and around the legal and penal systems of Canada, with and on behalf of some of the most marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized — particularly imprisoned youth, men and women. Kim Pate is widely credited as the driving force behind the Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, headed by Justice Louise Arbour. Senator Pate has been instrumental in building coalitions across the country with other equality-seeking women’s, anti-racism, anti-poverty and human rights groups and organizations.

Special thanks to Senior Producer Robert Giannetta and Junior Producer Daniella Marciano and Executive Director Vienna Vendittelli for producing this episode.


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