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Bill to replace segregation in prisons will improve the lives of federal inmates

Bill C-83 is sponsored by Independent Saskatchewan Senator Marty Klyne.

Legislation to overhaul Canada’s current system of administrative segregation to create a new system of structured intervention units is “a major step in a positive, progressive direction,” said Senator Marty Klyne, who is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

Bill C-83 requires that inmates who must be separated from the general population are provided with at least four hours daily out of the cell between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., including at least two hours daily of meaningful human interaction.

“Bill C-83 will make correctional institutions across Canada safer, it will ensure better rehabilitation and more humane conditions for those who must be separated from the general prison population for a measured period and it will help meet the overall objective of safer communities,” Sen. Klyne said in a speech to the Red Chamber.

The legislation also enshrines in law a Supreme Court ruling that requires the Correctional Service of Canada to consider systemic and background factors in decisions related to Indigenous offenders.

Under the current system, segregated inmates are moved from their cell in the regular part of the prison to a similar, if not identical, cell in a different part of the prison. Segregated inmates spend 22 hours in their cell, while time out is often spent alone elsewhere without access to programs and rehabilitative services due to safety concerns.

The new and different approach proposed in Bill C-83 would provide individualized attention to segregated inmates, including mental health services, with the aim of addressing factors that led to their separation and, ultimately, helping them return safely to the general population.

Doubling the amount of time outside the cell to four hours – including two hours of face-to-face interactions with staff, Elders, chaplains, volunteers, visitors and other compatible inmates – exceeds the standards established by the United Nations.

“With mandated hours out of cell and meaningful human interaction in SIUs, as well as the delivery of rehabilitative interventions and mental health care services, Bill C-83 will improve the lives of both federal inmates and staff,” Sen. Klyne said.

“It will also promote offenders’ successful rehabilitation, make correctional institutions safer while these individuals remain incarcerated, and make all of us safer by better preparing them for successful release and safe integration back into society.”

The Government has allocated $448 million over six years to implement the new system, with ongoing funding of $148 million per year. The funds will be used to hire about 950 new employees, including about 650 to provide health care and programs, and about 300 security personnel to ensure a safe environment.

Bill to replace segregation in prisons will improve the lives of federal inmates