Ontario's corrections adviser urges 'profound' changes to segregation practices

Ontario's corrections adviser is urging what he calls profound changes to segregation practices, but isn't calling for an end to it entirely.

Over 1,300 people spent 60 or more days in segregation last year, most of them awaiting trial

Report from Ontario corrections adviser makes 63 recommendations. (Shutterstock)

Ontario's adviser on corrections is urging what he calls profound changes to segregation practices, but isn't calling for an end to it entirely.

Howard Sapers, the former federal correctional investigator, was appointed by Ontario last year and released a report today with 63 recommendations.

He says segregation should never be a default response to issues in jail, but that is what it has become.

Sapers says last year more than 1,300 people — most of them awaiting trial — spent 60 or more days in segregation, including five people who had been isolated for more than three years.

Sapers says that despite the government revising segregation policies in 2015, including for mentally ill inmates, the proportion of that population in segregation has actually increased.

He says the legal framework around segregation is skeletal and needs to be strengthened, including an end to indefinite segregation, but he says the reality is that some form of seclusion is necessary.