Solitary confinement imposed far too often
Mar 17, 2016 By Matthew Friedberg
Placing inmates in solitary confinement happens far too often and the Ontario Human Rights Commission is quite right in calling for an end to its use in provincial jails, says Toronto criminal lawyer Matthew Friedberg.
"People who are suffering from serious mental health issues, for example, should not be in segregation — and they shouldn’t be in a regular provincial jail to begin with," he tells AdvocateDaily.com.
"There should be a specialized detention centre where they can receive specialized, real help — that’s a big problem. There is a disproportionate number of people in jail with serious mental health issues and they simply don’t belong there."
Friedberg weighs in on the issue after Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane asked the province to publicly commit to ending the practice and immediately restrict its use, reports the Toronto Star.
"We believe that it has a discriminatory and disproportionate impact on code-protected groups — namely, racialized individuals, people with mental health issues and women," says Mandhane.
Mandhane, an expert in international human rights law, says in the article that solitary confinement is often used to manage offenders with mental health disabilities, and the practice must stop.
"Because segregation is an option, it has not put pressure on the prison structure to create other forms of dealing with the complex needs of some of the prisoners in the population," she said.