A new report on the response of Canadian prisons to court rulings on the illegality of segregation shows that these ‘special intervention units’ (SIU) do not appear to be meeting the minimum standards set by the government. The full report is available here. UnderstandingCSC_SIU(DoobSprott26-10-2020) (1).
The report, by University of Toronto Professor Anthony Doob and Ryerson professor Jane Sprott, is based on data supplied by the Correctional Service (CSC). CSC only provided the data after the panel set up by CSC to assess the SIUs complained publicly that it had not received any data on which to base an analysis even as the panel’s term expired.
Because the data are limited, all findings are preliminary. However the data indicate the following:
– Most ‘visits’ (person-stays) in SIUs were relatively short. However 16% of all stays exceeded 2 months.
– Those sent to SIUs tended to be disproportionately male, young, and Indigenous
– Even over a 9 month period, multiple stays in SIUs were fairly common. 35% of people were there more than once in that time. Most of them had identified mental health issues.
– There were large regional differences in the use of SIUs, both in the number and length of time there.
– The stated reasons for transferring prisoners to SIUs varied substantially across regions. Those placed in SIU because of concern about the prisoner’s own safety ended up staying in the SIU a substantially longer period of time than did others.
– Only 21% of prisoners in SIUs received the legally mandated 4 hours per day out of their cell on even half the days. Nor did it seem from the data that the requirement for 2 hours daily of ‘meaningful human contact’ was taking place on a regular basis.
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