Ban Solitary Confinement for Young Offenders in Canada

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Adam Capay is a 23-year-old youth who spent close to 1,600 days — that is over four and a half years — locked in a 5-by-10-foot cell, the lights on 24 hours a day. Yes, this is in Canada and it is not an isolated case. Where’s the humanity in our carceral system?

The issue of young offenders being allowed to be detained in administrative segregation — for any period of time at all — is a major problem in Canada’s Corrections Services and the Corrections and Conditional Release Act.

Research on the effects of solitary confinement show that solitary confinement has long-lasting and harmful effects, and does the opposite of the fundamental purpose of Section 718 of the Criminal Code of Canada —  to assist in rehabilitating offenders.

According to research, prisoners experience symptoms such as dizziness, heart palpitations, and chronic depression. 41% of those surveyed reported hallucinations, and 27% had suicidal thoughts — all levels significantly higher than the general prison populations. The Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law explains that “Solitary confinement is recognized as difficult to withstand; indeed, psychological stressors such as isolation can be as clinically distressing as physical torture.” Being put in isolation can cause depression, and increase in anger and violence — defeating the main idea behind being locked in solitary.

Provincial Advocate for Children & Youth, Irwin Elman, said: “If your hope is to help young people turn their lives around, on what planet does anybody think that putting them in a room with very little in it for days in a row is going to help?”

The Ministry of Children and Youth Services has reported that many youth described inhumane practices and conditions, such as; denial of bibles and prayer mats, not being able to shower, not having bedding, etc. The United Nations explains that solitary confinement should be absolutely prohibited in youth under 18, and for individuals who are mentally ill.

Given the amount of research that states the harmful effects of solitary confinement on youth, we believe our country should be a leader and ban this unnecessary and inhumane practice in Canada.

If you agree that solitary confinement does more harm than good for Canadian youth, please support this cause by signing and sharing this petition.