Correctional Service of Canada responds to The Fifth Estate

The Correctional Service of Canada responds to The Fifth Estate's Did Ashley Smith’s death end solitary confinement?

Wronged: Did Ashley Smith's death end solitary confinement?

Wronged (Ashley Smith)

2 years ago
Ashley Smith's tragic death in prison was supposed to lead to reforms in solitary confinement for mentally ill inmates, but Joey Toutsaint's experience raises troubling questions about current practices. 16:54

The Correctional Service of Canada responded to The Fifth Estate's questions about solitary confinement and inmate Joey Toutsaint on Oct. 24, 2019:

CSC recognizes the need for the separation of inmates who cannot be maintained in a mainstream inmate population for security or other reasons and seeks to integrate evolving best practices into its policy development process, and suite of interventions; however CSC is not able to comment on the specifics of an offender's case, in accordance with the Privacy Act.

Structured intervention units (SIUs) will be used to manage inmates who cannot reside in a mainstream inmate population for security or other reasons with the goal of facilitating their reintegration into a mainstream inmate population as soon as possible. This includes having the opportunity to spend a minimum of four hours a day outside their cell, including two hours a day of meaningful interaction.

SIUs will give inmates access to targeted and structured interventions and programming for those who cannot be managed in a mainstream inmate population. The goal of the interventions is to provide the inmates with the pro-social tools they need to reintegrate into a mainstream inmate population and not return to the SIU. This legislation will change the way that CSC manages these inmates by addressing their specific risk and needs (for example Indigenous offenders and offenders with mental health needs). It is therefore expected that these environments provide for improved correctional outcomes with reduced incidents, resulting in safer and more secure institutions.

Inmates in a SIU will be provided opportunities to continue with or commence correctional programming, interventions and services that address the specific risks or behaviour that led to their transfer to a SIU.  Each inmate's progress will be monitored and assessed against their correctional plan. The inmate's placement in an SIU will end as soon as the inmate can safely reintegrate into a mainstream inmate population.

The health of individuals placed in SIUs will be monitored and assessed on an ongoing basis. Registered health professionals will assess the mental health of inmates within 24 hours of being transferred to an SIU and every 14 days thereafter. Also, inmates in SIUs will receive daily health care visits by a registered health professional and an in-depth mental health assessment will be completed within 28 days.

In addition to health services specific to inmates in SIUs, CSC is enhancing health services for all inmates with mental health needs. Funding associated with Bill C 83 will provide additional health professional resources, including psychiatric services, to support integrated health care and the early assessment and diagnosis of mental illness. These enhancements will ensure inmates with mental illness are on the right pathway of care and receiving appropriate and timely treatment.