Ban 'dungeon' for Ontario inmates in solitary confinement, prisons adviser urges

October 11, 2017
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

Ontario's independent corrections adviser is calling for the removal of several makeshift pens used in provincial prisons that are similar in size and construction to the notorious "dog kennels" recently dismantled at a federal prison after international condemnation.

The cramped enclosures were erected within the past year at Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay and Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene to create space in recreation yards and day rooms for inmates in solitary confinement and step-down units, which are used to help stabilize troubled inmates before they return to the general population area of a jail.

A recent report on correctional reform by independent adviser Howard Sapers includes four photos of recreational space partitioned in such a manner. Mr. Sapers referred to the structures as "troubling" in the report but used more forceful language in a subsequent interview with The Globe and Mail.

"A modern jail shouldn't be a resort, but it shouldn't be a dungeon either," he said. "My hope would be that they are removed. They are not suitable for their stated purpose."

But in ushering in a more rights-oriented model, the province says it has reached the architectural limitations of some prisons. Both Central East and Central North were constructed during the "no-frills" approach that prevailed under then-premier Mike Harris and contain limited space for classes, therapy or fresh air.

The province acknowledges that building cages to overcome the space crunch is "not always ideal."

Read more: Ban 'dungeon' for Ontario inmates in solitary confinement, prisons adviser urges