Ontario Prison Guard: One year in segregation not uncommon

By Kris Sims

OTTAWA –  A Thunder Bay prison guard who knows Adam Capay says inmates are commonly held in segregation for more than one year in Ontario.

Capay, 23, has been held in solitary segregation for more than four years while awaiting trial.  Over the 52 months in segregation Capay’s lights were left on in his cell for 24 hours a day, he did not have a television set or a computer and he was not given yard exercise every day.

The United Nations maintains no person should be held in solitary confinement for more than 15 days due to psychological effects of the isolation and lack of sleep due to constant light.

“I have seen him deteriorate from when I first met him,”  Michael Lundy, President OPSEU Local 737 at the Thunder Bay Jail told Evan Solomon on News Talk Radio 580 CFRA. “He’s just not the same person he was when I first encountered Adam.  There’s a reason why the United Nations doesn’t condone anything over 15 days.  When you isolate someone and put them alone in a cell with an hour out every day eventually it’s going to wear on your mind and it’s going to wear on your psyche and the type of person that you are.”

Lundy told Solomon that many provincial officials including the Assistant Deputy Minister knew that Capay was being held for so long and in such conditions and that it’s not uncommon for prisoners to be held in segregation for more than a year in Ontario.

“If I talk to presidents of other locals in other jails across the province would they all be able to say in your view ‘oh yeah, we’ve had guys in segregation for over a year – not uncommon.’?” Solomon asked.

“Yes,” replied Lundy.

“I have seen dozens spend more than three months in segregation,” Lundy said. “I have seen dozens upon dozens of times people housed over 15 days in segregation, and if you talk to any president of any local  in Ontario they would tell you the same thing.”

Officials at the jail say Capay has recently been moved to a cell where the lights can be dimmed.

Capay is awaiting trial, charged with the death of another inmate in 2012.

In October of 2011 the United Nations stated that segregation should be limited in prisons to no more than 15 days.

Segregation, isolation, separation, cellular, lockdown, Supermax, the hole, Secure Housing Unit… whatever the name, solitary confinement should be banned by States as a punishment or extortion technique,” UN Special Rapporteur on torture Juan E. Méndez told the General Assembly’s third committee at the time. “Considering the severe mental pain or suffering solitary confinement may cause, it can amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment when used as a punishment, during pre-trial detention, indefinitely or for a prolonged period, for persons with mental disabilities or juveniles.”