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Correctional Service Canada quietly removed caged-in exercise pens at the isolation unit of a federal prison in Alberta over the weekend. Good. Dismantling the structures, which were better suited to dog kennels than prisons, is the correct decision. Full credit is due to CSC management for making it – with a caveat.

The agency running federal prisons typically prefers tacit admissions over the overt kind when it comes to recognizing the many problematic aspects of "administrative segregation" – or solitary confinement, for people who prefer non-euphemistic English.

The most recent decision stands as another example of CSC's unfortunate propensity to act secretively and grudgingly, usually in the face of legal action, or only after specific practices are dragged into public view.

Ridding the Edmonton Institution of glorified dog runs required a spirited denunciation by the federal corrections ombudsman, Dr. Ivan Zinger, which was subsequently made public in The Globe and Mail, complete with a photograph of the cages.

With that done, the CSC should move down to the next items on its to-do list. For example, the federal government could stop isolating inmates in windowless cells.

As well, many of Canada's federal prisons are ancient and in a state of advanced dilapidation. If money needs to be spent to renovate facilities designed for early 20th century practices and requirements, it should be found, and quickly.

And then there is the overuse of solitary confinement. The research is unambiguous: Even short stints in solitary can have profound negative mental-health impacts. Worse, a hefty proportion of Canadian inmates – a quarter of the men, about half the women – already suffers from some form of mental illness, according to Dr. Zinger's office.

Ottawa has promised to limit stays in solitary to 15 days. But the Trudeau government's draft law setting that limit also gives wardens broad override powers, a worrisome loophole.

As well, the review mechanism essentially amounts to a bureaucratic revision of paperwork – not exactly robust and independent.

Taking down the cages is a positive step. But we must not be lulled into thinking it's anything more than a small one.

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