Thank you for the invitation to appear before your committee. It is a pleasure to be here.
I present to you Marie-France Kingsley, executive director of the office. She worked for many years as director of investigations and has a lot of expertise in operations.
As correctional investigator, I welcome the intent of Bill , which proposes to eliminate the use of solitary confinement as defined by the United Nations in the newly revised Nelson Mandela rules—that is, less than 22 hours in cell. I am concerned, however, that this bill as it stands may not lead to the intended and laudable outcome and may even result in an increase in the use of restrictive confinement. lndeed, the structured intervention units, or SIUs, which would replace administrative and disciplinary segregation as we know it may simply become “segregation lite”.
I am specifically concerned that the bill fails to provide for independent or external oversight of SIU placements and eschews the need for procedural safeguards of any kind. Eliminating solitary confinement is one thing, but replacing it with a regime that imposes restrictions on retained rights and liberties with little regard for due process and administrative principles is inconsistent with the Corrections and Conditional Release Act as well as the charter.
Whenever rights and liberties are deprived, there is a corresponding obligation to provide safeguards proportionate to the degree of the deprivation. SIUs are, by design and intent, restrictive confinement environments, even if they allow for more out-of-cell time than current administrative segregation. The simple fact of the matter is that an inmate housed in an SIU would have not the same rights as other inmates or be able to exercise those rights, due to what the bill itself concedes are “limitations specific to the structured intervention unit or security requirements”. ln effect, Bill proposes a softer version of segregation without any of the constitutional protections. The bill is uniformly short on specifics and places too much discretion and trust in correctional authorities to replace segregation with an unproven and not well-conceived correctional model.
Before I go further into these concerns, I would like to first acknowledge some progressive and positive aspects of the proposed legislation.
I am pleased to see that Bill would entrench in legislation the clinical independence and autonomy of prison health care professionals. This measure would effectively mean that clinical decisions could not be overruled or ignored by non-medical prison staff.
The bill also proposes to enshrine access to patient advocacy services in federal corrections. Such a measure would help ensure inmate patients understand the implications of their health care decisions and fully exercise their right to free and informed consent. These measures are consistent with evolving international standards in the care and treatment of people in custody, including the revised Mandela rules, and are responsive to addressing outstanding recommendations from the coroner's inquest into the preventable death of Ashley Smith.
I am also pleased that the bill would obligate the service to consider systemic and background factors that contribute to the overrepresentation of indigenous persons in the criminal justice system. This provision reaffirms and codifies the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Gladue, which already requires CSC decision-makers to take into consideration the unique circumstances of indigenous offenders whenever their rights and liberties are at stake.
Returning to the bill's intent, it is instructive to note that the grounds for SIU placement would remain virtually identical to current segregation law. ln other words, an inmate could be placed in an SIU if the warden believes, on reasonable grounds, that he or she jeopardizes their own safety or that of any other person, or the security of the institution.
It's important to note that these are the two most-used grounds for placement in administrative segregation. Today, there are 380 segregated inmates in CSC facilities. Just under half of the segregated population is held there voluntarily, meaning they seek out or request to be placed in segregation out of fear for their own safety and well-being.
The proposed legislation has nothing to say about how an SIU, program or intervention would deal with a population that voluntarily requests segregation, a situation which effectively represents a failure of the Correctional Service of Canada to provide safe, secure and humane custody for inmates regardless of one's crimes or vulnerability. It is also not clear how the proposed legislation would deal with the disproportionate number of indigenous people, who currently make up 43% of the segregation population.
It's been said that SIUs are different from solitary confinement because inmates would have four hours out of cell each day, which is twice as much as current segregation practice allows. While four hours minimum out-of-cell time is an improvement, 20 hours maximum inside a cell is still a lot of time to be locked up.
I commend the effort to comply with the Mandela rules in this regard; however, it's important to be reminded that these are minimum standards for the preservation of human dignity and sanity behind bars. Surely Canada is not resigned to simply meeting minimum standards. As a recognized world leader, we have to get this legislation right, and for the right reason.
Simply increasing the out-of-cell hours that inmates could avail themselves of does not mean that Canada will have eliminated all the harm associated with restrictive confinement. Any potential gain in time out of cell is potentially compromised by a requirement that allows CSC to conduct a routine strip search without individualized suspicion whenever an inmate is entering or leaving the SIU. In effect, this means that an inmate residing in an SIU could be strip-searched multiple times in a day, which could prove a major disincentive to participating in out-of-cell activities.
The bill intends to provide inmates placed in SIUs with meaningful human contact. That is the same wording and intent behind the revised Mandela rules for reforming the solitary confinement regime worldwide. Forgive my skepticism, but it is not clear how the objectives will be met by this particular piece of legislation. Since we can only assume that SIU environments will be physically similar to existing segregation units—because we have not been provided with information that would suggest otherwise—we have to ask whether these environments will be conducive to meeting the test of meaningful human contact, much less the effective delivery of programs and services.
We know that current segregation units are not conducive to group learning. Indeed, segregation interventions, insofar as they can be called that, are typically delivered in-cell, behind a door, through a food slot or in small common spaces located in or near segregation ranges. Needless to say, these spaces are hardly conducive to effective delivery of therapeutic interventions.
It is important to note that the bill proposes to eliminate both administrative and disciplinary segregation. I have previously pointed out that disciplinary segregation is rarely used in federal corrections, largely because it is considered too much of an administrative burden. Because of the liberties at stake, disciplinary segregation provides for significant procedural safeguards, including sharing information with offenders, providing access to legal representation, holding a hearing before an external independent chairperson and meeting the high burden of proof.
Over time, administrative segregation became the default option, used to circumvent the due process requirement of a formal disciplinary system. Administrative segregation placements are simply easier, quicker and more responsive in serving the same population management ends: removing an individual who poses a risk to oneself or others or who jeopardizes the security of an institution.
Let me just conclude.
In terms of how I see this bill moving forward, I would say that at the very least, adequate procedural safeguards and some kind of independent monitoring and oversight of SIU placement need to be incorporated. Otherwise, the commendable intention of this bill cannot be met.
I will be happy to answer any of your questions, and I would ask if the chair could enter the complete text of these remarks into the record, if that's possible.
Part of the issue, and it's a very well-known principle of administrative law, is that you have to match what is potentially at stake, which is a loss of liberty or freedom, to the degree of fairness.
If you look at disciplinary segregation, for example, which this bill would eliminate, you have a really odd situation, because you would have the highest level of due process—which is a hearing before an ICP, an independent chairperson; access to a lawyer; the ability to cross-examine witnesses; and a requirement for a high burden of proof—yet there's no significant loss of liberties, so on that side, it is pretty peculiar that you would maintain the ICP for disciplinary purposes when there's nothing that can be lost, since 30 days in segregation can no longer be imposed by the ICP.
Therefore, I think there's a really good opportunity here to maybe use the pool of ICPs to provide the oversight on something that is “segregation lite”. You still need that due process, and a high level, if you want those SIUs to flourish across the entire system, and then have all maximum security and significant portions of medium security institutions basically become SIUs. You need that independence to validate decisions made by a warden, and those decisions, as you said, if they are valid, could then be validated by an external oversight mechanism.
I thank the two witnesses for joining us today.
Discussion has focused on the importance of having an independent review and an independent validation, if I may put it that way. Instead of repeating everything that has already been said on the issue today, I would like to continue to talk about it, but in the context of health professionals.
When the minister came before us, he said that one of the major differences between the current situation and what the bill proposes has to do with the role health professionals could play.
As far as I understand, health professionals could come to a conclusion on an inmate's problematic situation, and that conclusion would not be independently reviewed. So there would be no mechanism in place to protect the inmate. For example, an inmate could need more oversight and may need to be removed from the structured intervention unit, but if health professionals' decision went against that, the inmate would, in a way, be a victim of the lack of independent review.
We changed the discussion. Initially it was all about administrative segregation. Now we're into what I call “segregation lite”, a very restrictive environment that does require due process.
By the way, there's been a proliferation of those types of “segregation lite” conditions of confinement over the last decade. We have transition units, special needs units, structured living environment units—all sorts of different names that do not provide a full day out of cells.
I mentioned that there are 380 inmates. There are probably a lot more who fit the definition of an SIU who would benefit from some oversight in this case.
I think the independent chairperson model is probably a correct one. Unfortunately, when it came to disciplinary segregation, correctional officers often circumvented the disciplinary process. Administrative segregation was easier to do, because it was all run internally. You didn't have to go in front of anybody external and you didn't have to reach a really high burden of proof, and so on.
I think we could use that model of independent adjudication. I would bring it under the auspices of SIUs. Thirty days would be okay. I would be—
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all of the committee for inviting me to appear.
As someone who lives and has worked in this unceded Algonquin territory for now approximately 27 years, I want to say that the impact of colonization on our indigenous peoples is particularly acute when you have the privilege and responsibility, as I have for almost four decades now, of walking in to—but, most importantly, being able to walk out of—prisons for youth, prisons for men and, for 25 years before my appointment, prisons for women.
All that is to say that when the minister introduced Bill , it was described as ending the practice of segregation by the Correctional Service of Canada and as the government's response to the recommendations of the jury regarding the homicide death of Ashley Smith. If in fact it were either or both of those, I would certainly be one of the most vocal supporters of the bill.
In fact, as we know, October 19 of this year marked the eleventh anniversary of the preventable death of Ashley Smith in the segregation unit at Grand Valley Institution for Women. Since that time, we have seen the implementation of very few of the recommendations put forth by the coroner's jury.
One of the things that is outlined in the bill and is certainly foreshadowed as though it were in response to the jury recommendations is the potential use of mental health advocates. In fact, what was being recommended by the jury were peer advocates and peer supports as well as mental health advocates, who are currently in place in the various prisons for women. The jury also recommended advocates to be available in some of the federal penitentiaries, particularly the regional psychiatric centre, which is dually designated as a psychiatric hospital and a federal penitentiary, but these have not in fact been used.
I'd be happy to talk more about why they have not been used. In part it's because of the process by which corrections implements the mental health legislation, invoking the mental health legislation for the purposes of forcible treatment when they wish to do so and then abandoning it before all the protective mechanisms, which include mental health advocates, kick in.
Therefore, the practice and procedure of the Correctional Service of Canada in this regard to date does not hold out great hope that a new process would be put in place just because of this bill, particularly in light of the fact that the bill also removes a number of the other procedural safeguards that currently exist for segregation.
I want to draw particular attention to the fact that prior to the bill being introduced and since the bill was introduced, going into federal penitentiaries both in my capacity as teaching a prison law course at Dalhousie University and in my capacity as a member of the human rights committee of the Senate, it is clear to me that what is likely to happen as a result of this bill, if it is passed as is, has already started to happen within the federal penitentiaries.
Certainly, we've seen this trend in the prisons for women for some time. All of the women who are classified as maximum security prisoners have been living in a state of segregation, because segregation is both a place called segregation and a status of separation. All federally sentenced women who are classified as maximum security have been living in these kinds of units since they were developed in the regional prisons across the country.
As I visited the last couple of penitentiaries when this bill was introduced, I was advising students on the sections that we were in. At one point, for instance, we entered the Nova Institution for Women, and I advised the students that we were in the segregation area. I was quickly corrected that it was no longer the segregation area; it was pod C of the intensive intervention unit. It was a very clear and very graphic example of how nothing has changed—merely the change of the name of the unit in that context.
In the men's prisons we saw the same thing, and similarly—unbeknownst to me before I started on the human rights committee review, because it had been some time since I was going regularly into the prisons for men—all the men's maximum security units and prisons are also now a series of segregated units.
That brings me to a point that has been raised in some previous testimony, which is that the majority of those in segregation are there voluntarily.
Some of you know that in fact there are very few members of Parliament, senators or judges who enter the penitentiary, despite their right of access according to section 72 of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. Well, for all of us who have entered and who have asked prisoners this precise question, for almost all of them, if they say that they are there “voluntarily”—and I would put that in quotation marks on purpose—it is because they are looking for a time out, for protection, or to be separated from the general population for some other reason. It is usually generated by the pre-existing conditions of confinement.
When we ask them if they would like to be in any other type of conditions, whether that would be in the private family visiting unit if they're looking for time to themselves or to have access to programs and services so as to have some time away from the very small, contained segregated units, in every instance prisoners have indicated that they would prefer that. Equally important is that when we've talked to staff, they have talked about the fact that increasingly people are segregated, and that is raising tensions in prisons and raising concerns.
The other piece I'm working on separately from the work of the human rights committee is in starting to go in and meet with the groups of men who have been gang-involved and who are the other rationale that is often given for segregating. There is a very good program in the Stony Mountain Institution. There is also a very good intervention being run by a man named Richard Sauvé, who is himself serving a life sentence. A number of senators and others are going into the prison in the coming weeks to actually meet with him and talk about the work they're doing to de-escalate situations and assist people, and in particular both African-Canadian and indigenous men who want to drop their colours so that they can actually start to desegregate, if you will, within the prison population.
There are a number of initiatives that have not actually been adequately canvassed, in my view, and it remains my view that in fact we could be looking at truly doing what this bill says it wishes to do. I for one would be happy to work with any and all of you on the committee, as well as with others, to ensure that the bill actually does that. My suggestion, actually, is that this be repealed and that we start from a new perspective and really try to do what is a very laudable intention brought forth by the .
Finally, I would say a word about what you've already heard from Dr. Zinger, the correctional investigator, on the lack of accountability.
The very few procedural safeguards that exist now for administrative segregation will essentially be thrown out the window and the monitoring of it will largely rest on the Correctional Service of Canada. I would suggest respectfully that there is a very important role for this committee and possibly for the human rights committee or the legal committee of the Senate to jointly look at implementing a recommendation that this committee made around oversight. I would recommend that annual reviews, not just reviews every five years, be conducted in accordance with the recommendation you made earlier with respect to the review of prisons.
Thank you. I look forward to your questions.
I'll be going first. Cara will come in a little bit later.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members.
When we raise concerns about solitary confinement, this is not an abstract discussion. We are expressing concern about the harms caused to human beings by the practice of extreme isolation.
These harms are well established by experts and were recognized by courts. Associate Chief Justice Marrocco found that the effect of isolation and prolonged isolation include—I won't even give you the whole list—hopelessness, depression, confusion, hallucinations and delusions, re-traumatizing of women and eroding of their self-worth, rage, loss of control, self-mutilation, declines in mental functioning, a sense of impending emotional breakdown and a vicious cycle in which a prisoner's extreme behaviour and acting-out leads to an increase in physical altercations with prison staff—frustrating them both, and of course leading to further isolation.
Fifteen consecutive days of isolation poses a serious risk, the court found, of permanent, observable, negative mental health effects. It's because of these harms to people that courts in B.C. and Ontario found the current administrative segregation regime to be unconstitutional and have ordered change. In order for Canada to uphold the law—as it is its duty to do—and obey the court orders, a new law must prohibit indefinite or prolonged solitary confinement, however it's called, and it should not exceed 15 days. It should prohibit placing people with mental illness and/or disabilities in solitary, and it should ensure the use of solitary doesn't discriminate against indigenous persons, as it currently does.
Bill does not include these protections.
Both Ontario and B.C. courts noted the absence of independent oversight and independent review. This is critically necessary, because a strong, external independent review process could help build public trust and ensure that prisons are obeying the law, that inmates are not being placed in isolation unless in absolutely necessary and exceptional circumstances, that no one is held in prolonged solitary, that indigenous individuals receive sensitive and culturally appropriate programming, and that a person who is mentally decompensating receives treatment rather than being left alone to deteriorate.
Any new law should also prohibit solitary for people under the age of 21 and people in need of protection. There is no justification to impose this status, whatever it's called, on young and vulnerable inmates.
The costs of isolation are not just to the individual but to correctional staff who have to manage individuals who are losing their grip on reality or their ability to control their reactions. It has a cost to our society, because people complete their sentences and are going to be reintegrated. The rehabilitation of inmates so that they are able to reintegrate requires an investment of resources in our correctional system. We need clear legislative protections, and this investment of resources is critical to making our society in Canada safer. As complex as it may appear, there are significant tools available for reform—real, implemented, effective alternatives as well as countless recommendations, models, reports and legislative blueprints. My colleague Cara will speak to some of them in a moment.
Justice Arbour's report is over 20 years old. The Ashley Smith jury inquest, with its 104 recommendations, is five years old. Two commissioned expert reports on segregation and corrections from Ontario are extremely recent.
I'll take a minute to talk about the U.K. prison system, which is up and running. They have all but eliminated solitary. Individuals there needing protection or supervision are placed in smaller units appropriate to their needs, to their population, and only the most exceptional of cases are kept in the special closed-supervision units. Of a prison population of roughly 85,000, approximately 60 men and zero women are held in this special unit.
As Senator Pate was saying, if we want to deal with extreme isolation of inmates, changing the sign will not create the change or provide sufficient relief to people held alone in tiny cells with mesh on the windows and a tiny concrete yard. What defines the experience of solitary is extreme isolation, which causes the harms discussed above. This bill, or this act, needs to be amended to say that any protections provided must be for anybody held in those circumstances of isolation. “Solitary” needs to be defined in the law.
Of course, any relief for people in those circumstances is better than no relief, including time out of cell, including human contact, but I note that there are enormous exceptions under proposed section 37, each of which is subject to possible overuse or misuse, and documentation and oversight are critically necessary to ensure that does not happen.
In addition, the broad language of proposed paragraph 37(1)(c) could exclude a huge number of people who would therefore be held in extreme isolation without four hours out of cell or two hours of human contact.
In any event, isolation is still practised and it would still be the order of the day. If some people believe that administrative segregation is necessary as a measure of last resort to be used in exceptional circumstances—say in the event of a riot—this bill is doing the very opposite. It is institutionalizing and attempting to justify isolation as an ordinary prison practice. Canada can do better.
It is a far cry from the kind of prison reform that we need and that we deserve for our safety and for our well-being. We need it as well because not only will it reduce harms, financial and mental, to inmates and to correctional staff, but it will be better for our society as well.
I'll add one more word before I turn it over to Cara.
For meaningful reform, which Canada needs, there has to be a meaningful process. None of the organizations that challenged this law successfully in court were invited to consult on the bill before it was introduced. I note with strong objection the absence of key indigenous rights groups from these committee hearings, including Aboriginal Legal Services and the Native Women's Association of Canada—both of whom asked to appear—despite the fact that indigenous individuals are overrepresented in solitary and that this bill has a section dedicated to indigenous offenders.
People's mental health is at stake. People's lives are at stake. This is no time for a slapdash attempt at a band-aid solution. I echo Senator Pate's proposal that there be a repeal of the bill and a proper effort at reform. Canada has had plenty of time and needs to do this properly.
I turn it over now to my colleague Cara to share some remarks on recent work in Ontario and possible alternatives.
I'm going to try to talk a little about the model that the federal government could have considered as part of a truly meaningful effort to transform corrections and address some of the constitutional violations that were identified by the courts in Ontario and B.C. that have examined this issue closely.
The Province of Ontario has recently undertaken a significant amount of work looking at the state of corrections in the province and examining the practice of solitary confinement in particular. The province benefited from two thorough, independent reviews conducted by a team led by Howard Sapers, the former federal correctional investigator and a leading expert in criminology and corrections. Even recognizing the differences between provincial and federal institutions and the inmates they house, the recommendations made in the Sapers report could certainly have served as a strong foundation for reform at the federal level. They are not reflected in the bill that this committee is considering.
Indeed, Ontario passed legislation that incorporated many of Mr. Sapers' recommendations, and that legislation explicitly prohibits the use of segregation for certain categories of inmates, namely those who are pregnant or have recently given birth, those who are chronically self-harming or suicidal, those with a significant developmental disability, those with a significant mobility impairment, and those who require medical observation.
The legislation in Ontario also put in place hard caps on the amount of time an inmate can spend in segregation: 15 days at a time, and no more than 60 days in a 365-day period. Segregation placements require regular and independent reviews.
The bill this committee is examining contains none of those provisions, and in our view those changes constitute the bare minimum required to address the charter violation inherent in the existing scheme.
The Ontario legislation also makes it clear that a visit from the institutional head or from a health care practitioner that takes place through a meal slot does not meet the legislative requirements for visits from these people. Federal legislation should similarly reflect the fact that communication through a meal slot does not constitute meaningful human contact, just as it specified that a shower doesn't constitute time out of cell.
It should also make clear that segregation is a last resort. It should require documentation of other options that were exhausted before a decision to place an inmate in segregation was made, and require documentation of efforts made to engage an inmate in meaningful human contact.
To conclude, Bill C-83 is not the deep-seated reform that is required, and simple amendments to echo what my colleague and Senator Pate have said will not bring it into compliance with the charter. What is constitutionally required, in our view, is an end to indefinite solitary confinement and an end to its use for those with serious mental illness and for other particularly vulnerable groups.
I would say that it could be. It would be going to the court if in fact you have a robust provision that says no segregation, so if, for some reason, the Correctional Service decides they have to do some kind of separation, they should have to establish that.
Right now all that would be required with this bill, with respect, in many of the mechanisms being proposed is that the Correctional Service of Canada would have to develop a case record, and what we know and what we saw most clearly through the Ashley Smith inquest is that those case records are developed largely to benefit those who are recording them.
Ashley Smith, for instance, was described as out of control and violent all the time, and yet when we actually saw the videotape of the evidence and cross-examined correctional officers, all of them described that they knew that information from what they had read about her, not from their actual experience with her. It reinforces that we need to actually pull people out of that process.
Similarly, it sounds wonderful to have external oversight of health care, for instance, through people responding to health authorities within the prison setting, but in every instance where that has been implemented—I mentioned the regional psychiatric centre, and there are a number of contexts in the youth system where that approach has been implemented—if the people are then embedded in the prisons and prisoners are not taken out, as clause 29 would allow you to recommend and require be done, and are not taken directly out of the prison into an externally administered service rather than having external people coming into it, then you see a far less robust oversight process. Instead, what you see when they are in the system is what I repeatedly had happen, whether it's a youth system or the regional psychiatric centre: the head of therapy coming to people like me saying that this person needs an advocate.
Many lawyers and judges don't even know that exists, because while they're looking at the legislation and they're hearing from individuals, they're not necessarily seeing first-hand what the conditions of confinement are.
I'm sorry to interrupt.
Prior to my appointment, in the job I was in previously we had recommended and offered an approach to Correctional Service of Canada in the process of all of these court cases being developed.
At that time the Elizabeth Fry Society was the only organization recommending no segregation at all, and certainly not for women, and not for those with mental health issues. Many other groups are now on side with that, but at the time part of what we had done over the period of 20 or 25 years was we had worked with individuals and started to develop advocacy options within the prison, working with the institution—and, as you probably know, there are teams that go in once a month—and actually starting to break down those barriers. We had recommended setting up a team to look at every individual that the Correctional Service of Canada was considering segregating, and then we worked on a plan to assist them that involved a responsibility of community actors, a responsibility of legal counsel sometimes, a responsibility of the prison.
They refused to set up that kind of initiative, and in fact part of the reason so many people are saying we don't need it for women is that some of those measures toward that end were actually incredibly effective, and so many people, including those working within the Correctional Service, recognized that we actually don't need that process.
As for going into the men's prisons again and starting to have those conversations with men, I don't think we're there yet. I would be remiss if I actually said that we were, but the same arguments that you're hearing from men and that you heard from the witness here are what I heard from women when we first started that process. That's why we're starting to work with the men and going in and meeting with the lifers and the brotherhood, the indigenous men's groups, to start to deconstruct that as well in those contexts.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I thank all three of you for being here.
I have a few questions on some of the language that is in, or not in, the legislation. I'll just throw them out there and ask for a response from both you, Senator, and our friends from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
The first is the absence of the term “least restrictive” that was in Bill , which was also flawed legislation, but that's not what we're here to discuss.
The other piece of language that I wanted to hear from all three of you about is in proposed paragraph 32(a), which talks about “for security or other reasons”. That's something that I've asked multiple witnesses about because I have a concern that it continues the status quo of using this type of confinement to compensate for other systemic issues in our corrections system.
Can I hear all three of you—or both of you, however you divvy it up—on both of those two language issues in the legislation?
I've provided charts; I haven't done the submission in the usual form, but I thought it might be useful for the committee. I have them in French and English and I'm happy to circulate them so that you can actually see what the current legislation is, what's been proposed, and the commentary. One of the issues is exactly what Ms. Mendelsohn has said.
In addition, regarding your very astute point about the basket category, as we often refer to them, this basically leaves it wide open for the discretion of the Correctional Service to determine any other behaviour or any other circumstance under which they would require someone to be separated.
I made a note about this next point, and pardon my mental pause at the beginning. You heard about the Ontario legislation, although what you weren't told is that the initial iteration of that legislation actually proposed that at least four prisons should commence without segregation units, so committed were those who were involved in the process that they could be run that way. It was actually some political pressure that came to bear that caused that not to happen.
I think Canada has long been a leader in human rights, and this is an area where we could be leading very clearly. We shouldn't be looking at UN standards as the ceiling; we should be looking at them as the floor.
Yes, I'll give you an example.
Just two weeks ago, I was called by an individual in an institution because, having done this for years, I know many of the staff as well as many of the prisoners. This is an example of what could have evolved into a very different type of emergent situation.
Someone was distressed. There was a decision taken by a staff member to call me, even though it was after hours—it wasn't within the usual nine to five—because there was a perception that I might be able to engage in a discussion that could yield a very different result than where they were headed, which was potentially segregation, restraints, using OC spray and the like.
Those are the kinds of things that were being talked about earlier, things that can be developed from the beginning. If you establish those kinds of relationships and know who actually might be able to work with this individual to move them to a different place, it can be done in an emergency and has been done. Those decisions have been taken by front-line staff, by wardens and by more senior individuals within the Correctional Service of Canada, in my humble experience.
I think there are opportunities to do things differently. Yes, people have to be able to make decisions, but the choices they make depend on what they know is available.