Solitary confinement: about 120 people are interested in a class action

Solitary confinement: approximately 120 people are interested in a class action

A correctional officer in Her Majesty's Penitentiary, Newfoundland and Labrador, in May 2017.

A class action lawsuit against the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador in subject of solitary confinement is attracting more and more interest.

Lawyer Jim Locke says about 120 people have contacted his firm, Morris Martin Moore, to describe their experience of solitary confinement over the past 30 years.

Mr. Locke said he heard testimonies that would shock many people, including those reporting urine, stools and blood on the walls. Such conditions, he says, are inappropriate for keeping animals, let alone humans.

Lawyer James Locke says about 120 people have contacted his firm to inquire about the class action lawsuit against solitary confinement in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Most of the complainants are men who have served their sentence in Her Majesty's Penitentiary, says Locke, but all the other correctional centers in the province are also involved.

Some people who contacted his office are still in jail. Others are relatives of detainees who were subjected to this measure while suffering from serious mental health problems, explains the lawyer.

It is clear, according to Jim Locke, that these people need medical help. He does not believe that the correctional system is equipped to offer them this help. The reaction of the authorities, he says, is to place them in solitary confinement to prevent them from inflicting harm on other detainees or themselves. He adds that the long-term effects of isolation compound their hardship.

The Office of Citizen Representative Bradley Moss received an average of 27 complaints per year from 2008 to 2018, in relation to solitary confinement.

Newfoundland and Labrador Citizens' Representative Bradley Moss says his office receives regular phone calls from inmates in correctional centers across the province.

In 2017, the provincial government reduced the maximum length of solitary confinement from 15 to 10 days. Still, Moss says his office still receives an average of 24 complaints a year.

Bradley Moss says solitary confinement is a prison within a prison, a place where he doesn't wouldn't want to end up.

Justice Minister John Hogan is not commenting on the class action lawsuit.

But as the province prepares to build a modern prison to replace the former Her Majesty's Penitentiary, which dates back to 1859, John Hogan says his government wants to improve conditions and rehabilitate inmates.


We want them to become productive members of society, stresses Mr. Hogan.

John Hogan, Minister of Justice for Newfoundland and Labrador, says he has met with a committee of inmates at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in recent weeks to discuss their issues.

< p class="e-p">Construction of the prison could begin next spring and could take three years, according to John Hogan.

He adds that his ministry remains at the listening to inmates and correctional officers els and doing what it can in current correctional facilities.

Based on a report byAriana Kelland, from CBC

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