A B.C. Supreme Court judge has ruled that the practice of prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement in Canadian prisons is unconstitutional.

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the John Howard Society of Canada (JHSC) brought the challenge against the federal government, arguing that rules regarding administrative segregation, more commonly known as solitary confinement, are inhuman and unconstitutional.

In a lengthy ruling released Wednesday, Justice Peter Leask found that the laws surrounding what is known as administrative segregation in prison discriminate against Aboriginal and mentally ill inmates.

He said the existing rules create a situation in which a warden becomes judge and jury in terms of ordering extended periods of solitary confinement.
“I find as a fact that administrative segregation … is a form of solitary confinement that places all Canadian inmates subject to it at significant risk of serious psychological harm, including mental pain and suffering, and increased incidence of self-harm and suicide,” Leask wrote.