Loading articles...

Report raises 'serious concerns' about progress on prison isolation units: minister

Last Updated Oct 28, 2020 at 12:44 pm MST

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair acknowledges that an independent report raises “serious concerns” about progress on implementing new units for isolating federal prisoners from the general jail population.

In response to criticisms 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.”

A preliminary report prepared for the Liberal government on the units says these requirements have seldom been met. 

Blair says his department won’t hesitate to address the findings.

He says the government wants to ensure federal correctional institutions are safe for staff and inmates, support the rehabilitation of offenders and reduce the risk of reoffending.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press