An agreement between the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) and the provincial government will see an end of segregation for inmates with mental health issues in Ontario’s 26 correctional facilities.
The agreement comes after the HRTO issued an order describing segregation as instances in which inmates are isolated, in their cells, for 22 or more hours a day. The Human Rights Tribunal order does not include lockdowns in its mandate.
“The order confirms that the government must take immediate action to end the segregation of people with mental health disabilities,” Renu Mandhane, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, told the Toronto Star. “It also includes measures that will keep the spotlight on corrections for years to come.”
The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario Division (CMHA Ontario) supports the order, as well as the recommendation by the Tribunal to properly identify inmates with mental health issues. Proper screening of inmates by professionals, especially those at risk of self-harm or suicide, would stave off the potentially disastrous effects of segregation.
CMHA Ontario also supports the recommendations for the government to collect and release data regarding segregation use, consult an independent expert to lead implementation and appoint an independent reviewer to monitor compliance.
For more information, read the Toronto Star article on the announcement.