The Correctional Service Canada (CSC) is set to establish new rules which will improve conditions for prisoners in solitary confinement and prohibit the segregation of vulnerable prisoners, reports The Globe and Mail in a recent article. These 15 draft changes come in light of pledges by Canada’s Liberal government, who promised to reform the CSC’s practice of solitary confinement after their election in 2015. Prisoner rights advocates welcome these new rules as a first step in the right direction to further prison reform.

In accordance with the proposed law, prisoners placed in solitary confinement must be allowed at least two hours a day out of their cells, twice the current requirement. As the UN General Assembly defines solitary confinement as “the confinement of prisoners for 22 hours or more a day without meaningful human contact”, the change comes close, in effect, to abolishing such segregation. Additionally, those who are placed in solitary confinement would be given new privileges related to access to personal property.

Another new rule would prohibit the placement of certain vulnerable prisoners in solitary confinement except in extenuating circumstances. This includes inmates who are certified under mental health legislation, those who self-harm or are at risk of suicide, as well as prisoners who are pregnant, physically disabled or terminally ill. The CSC also plans to update the way it cares for inmates who are suicidal or self-harm.

Although prison watchdogs approve of these changes, many stress that more changes must still be made. Advocates call for the establishment of an independent body to review the use of solitary confinement, as well as the imposition of limits on how long a prisoner can be kept in segregation. This comes as part of the recommendations made by a coroner’s inquest into the death of the 19-year-old Ashley Smith, who died whilst under suicide watch in custody in 2007.

Prisoners Abroad has supported many British nationals incarcerated in Canadian prisons. In the words of H.S., a client in Canada:

I would say that Prisoners Abroad really is very passionate about the work you do. You do not discriminate on who your clients are or what crimes they have committed.”

To hear more about life in solitary confinement, read Prisoners Abroad’s article about the experiences of prisoners in the US.

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