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The Newfoundland and Labrador government is overhauling its prisoner segregation policies in a move it says makes the province a national leader on disciplinary segregation.

Justice Minister Andrew Parsons says the maximum time in isolation in adult jails will now be 10 days, down from 15, and inmates will be able to earn a shortened stay.

The government says it has accepted 18 recommendations from a 2016 Segregation Review Committee report "in principle."

Among the recommendations: That inmates suffering mental-health issues not be placed in segregation; that every effort be made to allow segregated inmates the same activities as other prisoners; and that they get visiting privileges and improved access to health services.

Parsons says the change will give staff more disciplinary options, and give inmates better mental-health services and rehabilitation programs.

Owen Brophy, the superintendent of prisons, says segregation is stressful for both inmates and staff, and this "progressive change" can help alleviate that stress.

"As an organization we must ensure that everyone in our care is treated humanely, with respect and dignity," Brophy said in a statement.

On Sept. 26, the Ontario Human Rights Commission called on the provincial government to ban the use of segregation in its jails for people with mental illness, except in exceptional circumstances. It has filed an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, alleging the government breached a 2013 settlement that required it to implement major segregation reforms.

Gemma Hickey says Newfoundland and Labrador's move to legalize non-binary birth certificates is a 'big victory.' A court challenge by the activist was delayed Friday as the province says it will introduce legal changes this fall.

The Canadian Press