The Mission Correctional Institution in Mission, B.C. is pictured Tuesday, April 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The Mission Correctional Institution in Mission, B.C. is pictured Tuesday, April 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Review of federal prison isolation units ‘not adequate,’ new study says

Prisoners transferred to the units are supposed to be allowed out of their cells for four hours each day

A study has found shortcomings with the process intended to serve as a check on new units for isolating federal prisoners from the general jail population.

In response to criticism of solitary confinement, the government ushered in “structured intervention units” for inmates requiring isolation to allow better access to programming and mental-health care.

Prisoners transferred to the units are supposed to be allowed out of their cells for four hours each day, with two of those hours engaged in “meaningful human contact.”

According to the Correctional Service, personnel known as independent external decision makers review inmate cases on an ongoing basis, and provide binding recommendations related to their conditions and length of confinement.

However, a new study by academic experts says the reviews are “not adequate,” and it points to a lack of information about the nature of the information used by the decision makers, the logic behind their findings and the timing of the implementation of their decisions.

The study, made public Monday, was prepared by criminologists Anthony Doob and Jane Sprott and law professor Adelina Iftene using data provided by the Correctional Service.

The prison service had no immediate comment.

An earlier report by Doob and Sprott, released in February, said 28 per cent of the stays in the units could be described, given international standards, as solitary confinement and 10 per cent could be considered to be torture.

The latest study examined data dealing with decision makers’ reviews of the length of a unit stay.

It found cases were often referred to decision makers within 67 days. However, there were 105 cases in which the person stayed in a unit for at least 76 days with no record of the case ever being sent to a decision maker.

The study also found:

– Although the decision maker may have “independent” authority to decide that someone should be released from a unit, the prison service can arrange the timing of that release to meet its own needs;

– Black prisoners’ stays in units were longer than the stays of other groups;

– The review process did not help remove those with mental-health issues more quickly.

The study concluded that the decision makers’ reviews “as they currently exist are not adequate.”

“Without access to considerably more information about the manner in which these reviews are carried out, it is difficult for us to know whether this system of oversight can be made adequate,” the authors wrote.

“Most disturbing to us, however, is not the fact that we were not able to examine in detail how the (decision makers’) process actually works, but that nobody seems to be doing this.”

Based on the new findings and previous analysis of data about the units, “it is clear that change is desperately needed,” the study said.

“Our findings also point to the importance of there being an oversight body that can look systematically not only at the kind of data that we, as volunteers, have been looking at, but also at other more detailed data related to the operation of the (units) and the practice of solitary confinement.”

Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

Filming of The Baker’s Son in Chemainus. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Bread-making brilliance and mediocrity the recipe for movie ingredients

Willow Street on the map as a prominent location in The Baker’s Son

The return of Community Policing will be a welcome addition by residents. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Return of Community Policing in the works

Volunteers being sought and coordinators to be announced soon

Sonia Furstenau, MLA
Proposed Health Professions Act would eliminate barriers, guide regulations

Is your doctor a member of good standing with the BC College… Continue reading

These Douglas fir logs were found poached in April on Stoney Hill in North Cowichan’s forest reserve. (Larry Pynn/sixmountains.ca)
Fines in forest reserve could increase significantly after illegal logging

North Cowichan considering fines of up to $50,000

North Cowichan’s senior environment specialist Dr. Dave Preikshot (pictured) said there’s a wide spectrum of views on carbon credits. (File photo)
Carbon credits expected to be part of discussions around forest reserve

North Cowichan acknowledges wide range of views on issue

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Gabriola Island artist Sheila Norgate is promoting the Digital Innovation Group’s art impact survey. (File photo)
Vancouver Island artists get behind regional arts impact study

Artists urged to use their stature to help put arts and culture super-region on the map

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Neighbours fight a small late-night bush fire with garden hoses and shovels in Cinnabar Valley on June 5. They couldn’t get help from local fire services because the fire was located in an area under B.C. Wildfire Services jurisdiction. (Photo courtesy Muriel Wells)
Neighbours on edge of Nanaimo city limits left to put out bush fire themselves

Cinnabar Valley residents tackle fire with hoses and buckets for two and a half hours

Darren Campbell’s truck (pictured) was stolen when he stopped to check on a car in a ditch on Cowichan Bay Road on Monday morning. (Facebook photo)
Vancouver Island Good Samaritan’s truck stolen in nasty trick

‘Try to be a Good Samaritan and my $20,000 truck gets stolen right under my nose’

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

Most Read