‘Ottawa’ Ontario Ombudsman Calls on Province to End Indefinite Segregation in Jails
Ontario’s ombudsman is calling on the provincial government to abolish the practice of putting inmates in indefinite segregation.
Paul Dube says indefinite should be defined as longer than 15 days and no inmate should be in segregation for more than 60 days in a year.
Dube says Ontario should develop a long-term plan for inmates with developmental, behavioural and mental-health challenges, but in the short term, inmates in segregation should be assessed by a mental health provider every 24 hours.
The ombudsman’s office has received 557 complaints about segregation in provincial correctional facilities in the past three years, and in one case someone was in segregation for more than three years.
The ombudsman says the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services doesn’t routinely keep track of how many inmates are in segregation, but it recently found that the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre and the Central East Correctional Centre had 1,677 segregation admissions over five months last year.
Dube says, “it is difficult to understand the ministry’s policy position that segregation is a last resort, carefully controlled and monitored,” and instead seems to be a tool used to “effectively punish the most difficult and vulnerable inmates.”