Edmonton Institution inmates launch lawsuit over solitary confinement
Three inmates at the Edmonton Institution say their charter rights were violated, each sue for $1.9-million
Three federal inmates at the Edmonton Institution are suing the Attorney General of Canada for more than $5.5-million over their solitary confinement that only ended when a judge stepped in.
The inmates are each claiming their charter rights were violated after they were placed in segregation this summer for 43 days, 13 days more than is permitted under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.
In a statement of claim filed last month in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench, the men claim several breaches of their charter rights, including that the segregation amounted to "cruel and unusual punishment" and that their punishment was "grossly disproportionate" and failed to comply with principles of fundamental justice.
Officers alleged an attack plot
Correctional staff had alleged the men were planning to assault several officers in the institution. On June 28 the inmates were placed in administrative segregation — an indefinite placement that does not require an initial hearing to justify it.
But the men — aged 37, 31, and 19, serving sentences for crimes ranging from robbery to manslaughter — went to court to dispute the segregation. They represented themselves, and won.
In a judgment issued in early August, Justice Joanne Veit found "the government has not satisfied its burden of proving its decision … was reasonable."
Veit noted no institutional charges were laid against the inmates, despite the serious nature of the allegations.
She also could not find reasons why the offenders were not moved around in the prison while an investigation into the plot took place.
The men were released from solitary confinement the day after the ruling was released.
Rights allegedly violated
The statement of claim states one of the inmates, Matthew Hamm, received inadequate mental health care in segregation that caused destabilization of his mental illness.
Inmate Taylor Tobin was allegedly denied access to his medications while in segregation, the document states.
Tobin and another inmate, Shawn Keepness, claimed they were denied the ability to perform their Indigenous spiritual practices while in segregation.
"By placing the plaintiffs in prolonged and indefinitely administrative segregation, the basic standards of decency owed to the plaintiffs were violated. The segregation suffered by the plaintiffs was cruel and unusual punishment," the statement said.
Each of the men is suing the Attorney General for $1,873,000.
The statement of claim contains statements not yet proven in court.
No statement of defence has been filed.