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

The plan for a three-storey, multi-family building on Second Street hit a setback on a recent provincial grant application. Record file photo
Province turns down grant for Cumberland project

Groups spearheading project may look to federal grant, say village staff

A young bear found deceased at the side of the road in the Comox Valley has conservation officers looking for answers around its death. Black Press file photo
Conservation seeking information for deceased Comox Valley bear

A young bear was found deceased at the side of the road near Kitty Coleman Park

Tools of the trade at the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Photo by Terry Farrell
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

A look at the first stage of the treatment process - where binding of solids and particles in the raw water happens before the water moves to filtration. Photo, CVRD
Water to flow soon from new Comox Valley treatment plant

“We are at our last major hurdle before achieving this critical goal.”

Comox town hall. Black Press file photo
Comox looking at the future of transportation in the town

Council adopted the 2020 Transportation Master Plan Update

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

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 Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
Vancouver Island researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada: UVic professor

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

Most Read