The province won’t call it “solitary confinement”, but it admits there is no hard limit on how long an inmate can be segregated from the general population at a Saskatchewan corrections facility.
Drew Wilby is the executive director of corporate affairs for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Justice Corrections and Policing. He explains that the province refers to the practice as “administrative or disciplinary segregation”. He said the case file has to be reviewed after two days then once every 21 days when the decision is made to split someone from the general population of inmates in the facility.
“We don’t use administrative segregation lightly. It’s one of those tools that you want to use only where required,” Wilby said. “It’s designed to protect an individual from the facility and others in that facility or potentially protect the facility from an individual if they’re a threat to others that are there or the staff that’s there.”
The practice of segregation is also used for disciplining ongoing behaviours. In Saskatchewan the province doesn’t call it solitary confinement because some inmates are still able to interact with other inmates outside for a limited period of time, but that depends on the individual case.
Wilby said the policy and regulations around the practice of segregation currently under a major review by the province.
“We are currently looking at our policies around segregation, what that looks like, how we utilize it in each of our facilities and making sure that it’s being utilized in conjunction with the Act and what’s set out.”
He said this review is more focused after the Ashley Smith inquiry raised several questions about solitary confinement across the country.
Wilby admits it is also hard to track how often the practice is used to split up inmates in corrections facilities under provincial jurisdiction. He said the current data management system for provincial facilities makes it difficult to find out how many inmates are segregated, how often and for how long. He said it is part of the review process.
“Part of the work is looking at that information exactly and getting a sense of what is going out there in our facilities,” Wilby said.
The practice of solitary confinement or segregation is in the spotlight on a federal level after a Globe and Mail investigative report revealed that Richard Wolfe spent 640 consecutive days in segregation at a provincial jail in Saskatchewan before moving to the federal penitentiary where he died.
Corrections Canada said there was no foul play suspected in Wolfe’s death. Wolfe was known to be the co-founder of the Indian Posse gang, he was found in medical distress at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert on May 27, 2016.