A solitary confinement cell is shown in a handout photo from the Office of the Correctional Investigator. (Office of the Correctional Investigator/The Canadian Press)

Feds’ appeal of solitary confinement decision in B.C. to be heard

Judge ruled in January that indefinite such confinement is unconstitutional, causes permanent harm

B.C.’s top court is set to hear the federal government’s appeal of a ruling that said indefinite solitary confinement of prisoners is unconstitutional and causes permanent harm.

The B.C. Court of Appeal hearing tomorrow follows a lower-court decision in January that gave the government a year to draft new legislation with time limits on how long an inmate can be segregated.

Ottawa filed an appeal in February, saying it needs clarity though the two groups that launched the legal challenge against so-called administrative segregation say the ruling to strike down the law must be upheld.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society of Canada are also fighting against the federal government’s introduction of a bill last month that it says will reform the segregation regime but there are no hard caps on how long people can be segregated.

A nine-week trial the two groups spearheaded heard from former inmates who continue to experience mental health issues after being released.

The Court of Appeal for Ontario is scheduled to hear an appeal of a lower-court decision next month after a separate challenge by the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which argues the court should have imposed independent oversight for segregation decisions.

The Canadian Press

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