In response to the growing debate about solitary confinement and its impact on prisoners with mental-health issues,the Ontario government has decided to conduct a review of its policies, especially considering the use of segregation in provincial jails.
The government is also planning to set up a psychiatric treatment center for female inmates.
The decision comes after a report commissioned by the province which shows that massive reforms should be introduced in terms of services offered to female inmates with mental illness, including a special facility for those female prisoners.
Although there is a psychiatric treatment unit for male prisoners that operates in Brockville, the same facility does not exist for women.
In 2013 a report was commissioned to look at the settlement requirements for Christina Jahn, a former inmate who spent seven months in segregation at an Ottawa-Carleton detention centre.
She alleged that despite suffering from mental illness and cancer, she did not receive any treatment and was kept in solitary confinement for more than 200 days.
Recommendations in the report
- mental health screening for female inmates
- regular reassessment of care and treatment
- women-focused mental health training
Ministry of Correctional Services under pressure
Over the past few months, the ministry has been under pressure to answer questions regarding its segregation and correction policies,including the solitary confinement of sick inmates at the province’s newly built jail.
The death of Ashley Smith while at the Grand Valley Institution for Women and the case of Edward Snowshoe, who hanged himself while serving solitary confinement at a jail in Edmonton, both led to heated debates on national segregation policies in prisons.