Segregation in Ontario. Your move, Minister.

Here are the recommendations of the Ontario Ombudsman on segregation of inmates. They arise from a deplorable state of affairs which has clearly not been addressed to date. Keep these recommendations in mind in determining whether words or acts will govern.

Note #31, which describes an independent review process with “pouvoir decisionel”, the hallmark of an effective segregation policy. This has been ignored in the past. Let’s see what happens now.

1. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should revise the definition of segregation to ensure that it encompasses all inmates who are held in segregation-like conditions. The revised definitions should be in accordance with international standards, which define segregation as the physical isolation of individuals to their cells for 22 to 24 hours a day.

2. The Ministry’s revised segregation definition should clearly indicate whether confining a group of inmates to their cells (e.g. lockdowns) comes within the definition.

3. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should clearly define what constitutes a break from segregation for the purposes of determining whether a segregation placement is continuous.

4. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should consult with frontline correctional staff to ensure that any proposed definition can be easily, accurately, and consistently applied at Ontario’s various correctional facilities.

5. Correctional officials from all organizational levels should receive training regarding the revised definition for segregation. This training should include examples of how the definition applies to different factual scenarios that commonly occur in correctional facilities.

6. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should codify the revised segregation definition in the Ministry of Correctional Services Act or its regulation. Additional interpretative guidance regarding the application of the definition should be set out in a separate segregation policy.

7. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should implement a revised definition of segregation as soon as possible, and no later than six months after receiving this report.

8. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should ensure that correctional staff have sufficient resources, including access to computers and time during their shifts, to record changes in an inmate’s placement as they occur or as soon as practicable.

9. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should research technological solutions that would streamline or automate tracking inmate movement and reduce the possibility of human error, with the goal of implementing a solution within the next 12 months.

10. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should develop policies and provide training on how to accurately and consistently record information necessary to track segregation placements. The training should emphasize the importance of this information and explain how it is used by corrections managers and senior Ministry staff during segregation reviews.

11. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should review its existing methods for capturing segregation data and, where possible, eliminate duplication.

12. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should develop a standard method to accurately track the total number of consecutive days that an inmate spends in segregation for inmates who are transferred between correctional facilities. Staff should receive training on the new procedure and the Ministry should revise its policy to reflect the revised practice.

13. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should ensure that it has a standardized method for accurately tracking and reporting on inmates who spend 60 days in segregation over a 365-day period.

14. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should increase the functionality of the OTIS Care in Placement tool so that it automatically calculates when segregation reviews need to be completed for each inmate.

15. The computer system (OTIS) should provide frontline correctional staff and facility managers with automated notifications of any reviews that must be completed.

16. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should develop policies regarding the use of the Care in Placement tool to ensure frontline staff know who is responsible for inputting data and when this must be completed. The Ministry should also ensure that staff have sufficient resources – access to computers and time during their shift – to enter the information in OTIS.

17. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should regularly audit the data entered in the OTIS Care in Placement tool to ensure its accuracy and integrity.

18. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should, on an expedited basis, give frontline staff and corrections managers access to view portions of the Active Segregation Report and exception reports related to their facility. The Ministry should provide training to these individuals about how to use and interpret the report.

19. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should make segregation data available to the public in an anonymized form on an ongoing basis as part of the province’s open data initiative.

20. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should create a permanent data management and reporting team and ensure it is sufficiently resourced. This team should be included in discussions about policy changes that could affect segregation data collection or statistical reporting.

21. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should collect information on:

whether segregated inmates have mental health or developmental disabilities or other Human Rights Code-related needs;
when inmates have last met with a health care professional; and
whether there is a care or treatment plan for the inmate.
22. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should collect and analyze statistics about the use of segregation across facilities and amongst various inmate populations. This data should include information about the inmate’s gender, race, mental health status, aboriginal status, and other relevant personal factors, as well as instances of self-harm, increased medical treatment, hospitalization, and deaths occurring during segregation. The results of this analysis, as well as the underlying data, should be reported publicly on an annual basis.

23. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should develop a plan to implement the December 2015 recommendation of the Correctional Services Oversight and Investigations unit regarding the need to provide clearer reasoning and more fully documented decision-making during the Segregation Decision/Review process.

24. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should provide training and guidance to correctional staff on the importance of fulsome and error-free segregation review documentation. This training should emphasize the importance of documenting why the inmate was placed in segregation and what alternatives were considered, as well as justifying why required certain steps have not been taken.

25. To promote consistency and accuracy, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should consider using dedicated staff with specialized knowledge and training to complete the required reviews.

26. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should consider integrating the Segregation Decision/Review form process into the Care in Placement screen workflow to streamline reporting and eliminate duplication. The Ministry should also examine how to integrate other segregation-related documentation into this portion of OTIS.

27. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should develop processes and procedures to integrate the 5-day and 30-day review process with the weekly segregation review committee meetings. The integrated process should eliminate unnecessary duplication and ensure that information is shared between the multi-disciplinary team that supports segregated inmates and the staff who complete the segregation reporting.

28. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should ensure the minutes and recommendations produced by weekly review committees are included with the segregation reporting information sent to regional and senior Ministry staff.

29. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should ensure that all 30-day reports are rigorously reviewed by regional and senior Ministry staff to make certain that administrative segregation is only being used as a last resort and that the conditions of confinement are the least restrictive possible in every case.

30. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should ensure that a special audit team, including individuals from the Correctional Services Oversight and Investigations unit, regularly reviews segregation placements to determine if they are in accordance with regulation. Given the importance of ensuring compliance with segregation policies, this procedure should be enshrined in regulation.

31. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should carefully consider my Office’s previous recommendations regarding the creation and procedures of an independent panel to review all segregation placements, as follows:

The Minister should appoint an independent panel to review all segregation placements.
The independent panel appointed by the Minister should hold administrative hearings within the first five days of each segregation placement, and each subsequent five-day period. The inmate should be allowed to attend in person or through video conferencing with a representative of his or her choosing. The inmate should be given the opportunity to prepare and to know the case that he or she will have to meet. The Ministry should provide inmates with access to duty counsel. The hearing should be held in as neutral a venue as possible, and never in an inmate’s cell or on a living unit.
Before the review hearing, a segregated inmate should be required to meet with a rights advisor who can inform the inmate of his or her rights, including the right to obtain legal representation.
At the segregation review hearings, the burden of proof must be on the facility and the Ministry to show that the inmate’s temporary placement in segregation is justified.
At the segregation review hearings, the independent panel should evaluate the mental and physical well-being of each inmate, and the panel’s decision should take these factors into account.
The independent panel should issue a decision within one day. Written reasons will be issued if any of the parties request them within 30 days of the hearing.
The independent panel should be empowered to remove inmates from segregation immediately, as well as grant a broad range of other remedies.
The independent panel should be empowered to recommend that Superintendents initiate investigations and discipline proceedings, as appropriate, for correctional staff found to have violated the segregation regulation and policy.
The independent panel appointed by the Minister should be subject to the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.
32. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should report back to my Office in six months’ time on the progress in implementing my recommendations, and at six-month intervals thereafter until such time as I am satisfied that adequate steps have been taken to address them

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s