Federal government tables bill to transform prisoner segregation

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OTTAWA — The Trudeau government tabled legislation today to transform the way it separates inmates in federal correctional institutions from the general prison population.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale says the bill is the result of recent court decisions on administrative segregation as well as recommendations from a coroner’s inquest into the 2007 death of teenager Ashley Smith, who died by self-strangulation after spending more than 1,000 days in segregation.

Administrative and disciplinary segregation — which involve separating an inmate from others for safety or security reasons — will be eliminated.

For inmates who pose security or other risks, new “structured intervention units” will be created to allow offenders to be removed from the general inmate population while maintaining their access to rehabilitative programming, interventions and mental-health care.

Access to patient advocates will be provided to inmates — a measure that was also recommended by the Ashley Smith inquest.

In addition, the Correctional Service of Canada will be obliged to ensure that considerations unique to Indigenous offenders are factored into all correctional decision-making.

The Canadian Press