Justice and Public Safety Minister Andrew Parsons and joined by Owen Brophy, superintendent of prisons for Newfoundland and Labrador, made the announcement. The new policy is being developed after a review of current standards and practice, Parsons said in a news release.
With the new policy, the maximum time in isolation will change from 15 to 10 days, with the ability for the inmate to earn a shortened stay in disciplinary segregation.
The province accepted in principle 18 recommendations from the report by a committee struck in 2016.
“I’d like to thank Superintendent Brophy and the Segregation Review Committee for their recommendations. The new policy will provide alternative disciplinary measures for corrections staff and will give inmates greater access to mental health services and rehabilitation programs,” Parsons said in the release.
“As an organization we must ensure that everyone in our care is treated humanely, with respect and dignity,” Brophy said. “Housing inmates in segregation is stressful to both inmates and staff, and through progressive change, these measures can help alleviate that stress.”
Recommendations made by the Segregation Review Committee:
• Recommendation 1: It is recommended that inmates who experience or are suspected of experiencing mental illness/mental health concerns should not be placed in segregation.
• Recommendation 2: It is recommended that there should be a maximum disposition of 10 days in segregation with the ability to earn remission on all disciplinary dispositions.
• Recommendation 3: It is recommended that physical conditions in the segregation cells and area must be humane.
• Recommendation 4: It is recommended that every effort should be made to offer inmates in segregation the same frequency and variety of activities that are available to the rest of the prison population.
• Recommendation 5: It is recommended that periods of placement in segregation should not include loss of visiting privileges.
• Recommendation 6: It is recommended that inmates facing disciplinary charges be maintained on their unit until appearing in disciplinary court. Placement in segregation for pre-hearing detention must be authorized by the officer in charge.
• Recommendation 7: It is recommended that disciplinary hearings must be held within 48 hours.
• Recommendation 8: It is recommended that inmates in segregation should have improved access to physical and mental health services.
• Recommendation 9: It is recommended that additional areas be established in each adult correctional facility to enable the placement of inmates with complex mental health needs who require direct observation (camera).
• Recommendation 10: It is recommended that inmates serving in excess of thirty days in segregation during a term of incarceration be referred to the Complex Needs Committee.
• Recommendation 11: It is recommended that there be policy and procedures developed and updated for disciplinary segregation.
• Recommendation 12: It is recommended that there be policy and procedures developed and updated for disciplinary hearings.
• Recommendation 13: It is recommended that Adult Custody Policies Regarding Inmate Discipline be made available to all correctional staff members.
• Recommendation 14: It is recommended that a formal process of data collection and statistics should be implemented immediately for the use of segregation.
• Recommendation 15: It is recommended that the Correctional Services Act (2011) be implemented immediately.
• Recommendation 16: It is recommended that a thorough and complete review of administrative segregation should be conducted.
• Recommendation 17: It is recommended that the report, A Review of the Use of Disciplinary Segregation, should be shared with all stakeholders.
•Recommendation 18: It is recommended that an Oversight Segregation Committee be established.