The poor conditions in a Sudbury, Ont. jail are now leading to shorter sentences for inmates.

In a decision some see as precedent-setting, a Sudbury judge ruled that living in the jail is really like doing time and a half.

Skylar Dalyk spent the last two years in Sudbury's jail waiting to find out his fate.

That came yesterday, when he was sentenced to 5.5 years for stabbing a man to death.

The judge cited the "extremely harsh" conditions inmates live with, including mould, mice and overcrowding, and ruled that his two years in jail should count as three, meaning he now has 2.5 years left to serve.

Lindsey Santerre

Sudbury lawyer Lindsey Santerre hopes that other Sudbury defence attorneys will use a judge's recent decision on time served as precedent when representing accused who have served time in the Sudbury jail. (Kate Rutherford/CBC)

"So, now there is a Sudbury precedent of a judge allowing for enhanced credit," said Lindsey Santerre, Dalyk's lawyer.

Santerre said she expects more Sudbury defence attorneys will make this argument, and wonders if that might lead to improvements in provincial jails.

"It's a lot more harsh than it needs to be. And we have to remember that a lot of people in remand facilities are not convicted. They're still innocent until proven guilty," she said.

"I'm hopeful, but I think maybe this was just a minor thing in a big problem."

Public safety issue?

Nathan Aubin

The head of the Sudbury guards union Nathan Aubin hopes that convicts getting out early will make the public pay attention again. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

That problem was in the headlines when a strike was expected by Ontario jail guards, but has since faded.

The head of the Sudbury guards union Nathan Aubin told CBC News he hopes that convicts getting out early will make the public pay attention again.

"I would say that that would be a public safety issue. Offenders that aren't fully rehabilitated or haven't gone through the programs they need to go through are being released earlier than they should be."

A new federal law caps credit at 1.5 years for every year. In the past, some inmates living through poor conditions were getting three-to-one year credit.

Should inmates get extra credit for living through poor jail conditions?