Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

David Orazietti is pictured at Queen's Park in Toronto on Feb. 11, 2013.


After a 19-month review of solitary confinement in Ontario, the province has devised a familiar plan for reforming the controversial practice in its jails: another review.

On Monday, Corrections Minister David Orazietti announced he's looking for an external reviewer who can deliver a report on segregation practices in the province by spring of 2017, two years after the launch of the first review.

"After a thorough internal review and extensive consultations with a broad range of experts, it is becoming apparent to me … that a more thorough and comprehensive review into the complex nature of the corrections system in Ontario needs to be conducted," Mr. Orazietti said at an afternoon news conference.

Story continues below advertisement

In addition, he introduced a bundle of incremental changes to segregation policies that critics and stakeholders said look good on paper but amount to little in practice.

Analysis: Documents reveal troubling details about long-term solitary confinement

Read more: Dispatches from an indefinite period in isolation

The announcement came the day before the Ontario Human Rights Commission is scheduled to make public a supplementary submission to the segregation review based on data on isolated inmates it obtained recently from the province.

In an earlier submission, the commission called on the province to end solitary confinement altogether.

The government's interim measures include a 15-day limit (down from 30) on the number of consecutive days inmates can spend in disciplinary segregation, the establishment of a weekly segregation review committee at all institutions and a review of data-collection practices.

What Mr. Orazietti did not say is that disciplinary segregation makes up a small fraction of all segregation cases in Ontario prisons. Figures obtained by The Globe and Mail earlier this year showed that for the last five months of 2014, just 8.6 per cent of inmates in solitary confinement were sent there for disciplinary reasons.

Story continues below advertisement

The remaining isolated inmates were admitted for "administrative" reasons, a designation that will continue to carry an indefinite duration and is used to segregate hundreds of mentally ill inmates every year.

The figures obtained by The Globe and Mail also showed that roughly 40 per cent of inmates in Ontario segregation cells exhibited serious mental health issues.

First announced in March of last year, the government's internal segregation review was itself a long-delayed measure intended to fulfill a condition contained in a legal settlement signed in 2013.

Christina Jahn filed a human-rights complaint against the province after spending more than 200 days in solitary confinement at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre without significant mental health treatment.

The settlement in her case forced the government to undertake a series of "public interest remedies," including the potential construction of a mental health facility for female inmates and a review of administrative segregation.

"These are steps in the right direction," said Ms. Jahn's lawyer, Paul Champ, of the provincial announcement, "but they do need to be doing a lot more to ensure they are complying with not only human-rights legislation but the Charter and international law. When we started the Jahn case five years ago, [the province] didn't really seem to care about any of this. Now, they seem to be taking more proactive steps than any other province."

Story continues below advertisement

Ontario's corrections union, along with a broad spectrum of rights groups, have long pushed the province to build alternatives to segregation cells so that correctional officers could stop putting mentally ill inmates in segregation.

"The concerns of a lot of groups are legitimate and we agree with them: Segregation is not the place for inmates with mental health issues," said Monte Vieselmeyer, corrections chair of Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

Mr. Vieselmeyer said the minister's immediate changes would mean little for his members.

"I don't think this is really addressing the issues that we need addressed," he said. "I think the minister wanted to put out an announcement because … there has been a question of delays and they want to give the appearance now that something is in place, but I think it falls short."

The decision to prolong any major changes to segregation practices in the province come as change sweeps through solitary confinement units around the world. This year, the federal correctional service abruptly halved the number of inmates it keeps in solitary confinement.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies