Statement by Minister Yasir Naqvi on review of segregation policy in Ontario correctional system
Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, made the following statement today about Ontario's correctional system, announcing a review of its segregation policy:
"The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services' constant focus is on transforming Ontario's correctional system to improve staff and inmate safety, effective rehabilitation and reintegration programs, and strengthening of inmate mental health supports.
Moving forward in these key areas is at the very core of building safer, stronger communities right across our province.
As part of that, our government is launching a comprehensive review of the segregation policy and its use in correctional facilities, including how it interacts with our other mental health policies.
Consultations with mental health experts, civil liberty groups, our correctional staff, bargaining agent and partners, as well as organizations like the Ombudsman's Office and the Ontario Human Rights Commission on this review will begin this summer.
On any given day, approximately 7,700 individuals are in custody in our 26 institutions. About five per cent of those inmates are in segregation for a variety of reasons. About half of the inmates in segregation are there at their own request or because it is the only way to ensure their physical safety. Other reasons include inmate misconduct, to ensure the safety of staff or other inmates, or on advice of a medical expert.
Inmates being held in segregation have the same right to receive humane treatment as all other inmates in the institution, but may lose privileges when placed in segregation for disciplinary reasons. All inmates placed in segregation have their placement reviewed after 24 hours and every five days thereafter.
We also know it is important that these inmates understand this process and their rights. That is why we developed a summary guide outlining these rights and procedures that is now posted on our website and given to each inmate.
While inmates in segregation represent a small percentage of the total inmate population, they often have complex and overlapping needs, which frequently includes mental health issues.
We are taking a hard look at our segregation policy to ensure that it is helping those inmates, and aligns with our stated goals of rehabilitation, reintegration, increased mental health supports, and improved staff and inmate safety.
In addition to reviewing the segregation policy, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services continues its work with the Ontario Human Rights Commission in fulfilling our human rights obligations to enhance services for inmates with mental health issues.
The ministry has already moved forward on many of these remedies, including the new summary guide, a new screening tool, and most recently, working with mental health experts on a report that provides advice on improving access to mental health services for female inmates. The report is being reviewed and the ministry will report back on its recommendations within the next 18 months, as outlined in the remedies.
This review will help guide the ministry in the transformation of our correctional system to better align our mental health, rehabilitation and other supports for inmates, and keeping staff and inmates, safe.
-- Yasir Naqvi, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services