Ontario Minister changes mind and moves man held in solitary confinement for four years without a trial
A day after the minister in charge of Ontario’s prisons told the media he wouldn’t release from solitary confinement an inmate who has spent four years in isolation without trial, the minister apparently has had a change of heart and moved the prisoner out of isolation.
Community Safety Minister David Orazietti was under intense pressure to let Adam Capay, a 23-year-old First Nations man, out of the Plexiglas-lined cell at the Thunder Bay Jail where he is confined alone under 24-hour-a-day artificial light. This morning he stood up in Question Period in the Ontario legislature and announced that Mr. Capay had been moved.
Mr. Capay was charged in 2012 with killing another inmate in a fight, and has not yet come to trial.
Mr. Capay has become an example of the crisis in the province’s corrections system, where a lack of resources has left hundreds of prisoners locked in solitary confinement for weeks, months and years on end.
On any given day in Ontario, there are approximately 8,000 adult men and women in provincial custody. On average, seven per cent of these inmates (roughly 560) are held in solitary confinement.
“I cannot commit to releasing any individual from segregation,” Mr. Orazietti said at Queen’s Park on Tuesday. “That is not a decision that politicians are making. That is a decision that is made by the individuals operating our jails. I will not take individual action on a specific circumstance.”
Mr. Capay’s situation became public after a prison guard tipped off Renu Mandhane, the head of the province’s human rights commission, when she was visiting the jail earlier this month. Ms. Mandhane found Mr. Capay alone at the end of a range on a windowless floor. After 1,500 days in solitary, she later told reporters, he suffered from memory loss and difficulty speaking. Because of the continuous artificial light, he could not tell day from night.
Ms. Mandhane’s data showed that, between October and December of last year, 1,383 Ontario prisoners had spent more than 15 days in solitary confinement, a threshold the United Nations calls a form of torture.
Mr. Orazietti said he is awaiting the results of a third-party review due next year. He ordered it earlier this month after a previous 19-month review.
Ombudsman Paul Dubé is also considering launching an investigation.
On October 17, Ontario announced a series of incremental reforms that critics say fail to deal with severity of the problem.
Projected Ontario Legislative Business for Wednesday, Oct. 26
Main Chamber Business
Ontario Legislature Committee meetings for Tuesday, Oct. 25
- 12:30 p.m. – The Standing Committee on Public Accounts will meet to consider Long-term-care Home Quality Inspection Program. Watch here!
- 3:00 p.m. – The Standing Committee on Estimates will meet to review the 2016-2017 Estimates of the Ministry of Energy.