Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Did the Trudeau Government Really Need the B.C. Supreme Court to Tell Them This?

Indefinite solitary confinement is wrong. It shames the nation that resorts to such an inhumane practice that is nothing short of mental torture.

In a lengthy ruling released Wednesday, Justice Peter Leask found that the laws surrounding what is known as administrative segregation in prison discriminate against Aboriginal and mentally ill inmates.

He said the existing rules create a situation in which a warden becomes judge and jury in terms of ordering extended periods of solitary confinement.

"I find as a fact that administrative segregation … is a form of solitary confinement that places all Canadian inmates subject to it at significant risk of serious psychological harm, including mental pain and suffering, and increased incidence of self-harm and suicide," Leask wrote.


In his ruling, Leask cited many of the tragic cases which brought the issue of solitary confinement to the forefront in recent years, including that of Ashley Smith, a 19-year-old who died in a segregated prison cell in Kitchener, Ont., in 2007. A coroner's jury ruled Smith's self-inflicted choking death was a homicide.

Then there's this, from Gizmodo:

A quick glance at literature review studies done by Sharon Shalev (2008) and Peter Scharff Smith (2006) affirms this assertion; here are some typical symptoms:

Anxiety: Persistent low level of stress, irritability or anxiousness, fear of impending death, panic attacks

Depression: Emotional flatness/blunting and the loss of ability to have any "feelings", mood swings, hopelessness, social withdrawal, loss of initiation of activity or ideas, apathy, lethargy, major depression

Anger: Irritability and hostility, poor impulse control, outbursts of physical and verbal violence against others, self, and objects, unprovoked angers, sometimes manifested as rage

Cognitive disturbances: Short attention span, poor concentration and memory, confused thought processes, disorientation

Perceptual distortions: Hypersensitivity to noises and smells, distortions of sensation (e.g. walls closing in), disorientation in time and space, depersonalization/derealization, hallucinations affecting all five senses (e.g. hallucinations of objects or people appearing in the cell, or hearing voices when no one is speaking

Paranoia and psychosis: Recurrent and persistent thoughts, often of a violent and vengeful character (e.g. directed against prison staff), paranoid ideas (often persecutory), psychotic episodes or states, psychotic depression, schizophrenia

Self-harm: self-mutilation and cutting, suicide attempts

In California, it has been shown that inmates are 33 times more likely to commit suicide than other prisoners incarcerated elsewhere in the state. Disturbingly, solitary confinement beyond 15 days leads directly to severe and irreversible psychological harm. But for some, it can manifest in even less time. What's more, a significant number of individuals will experience serious health problems regardless of specific conditions of time, place, and pre-existing personal factors.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Did the Trudeau Government Really Need the B.C. Supreme Court to Tell Them This?" No...not if they are smart.