Advocates see prison bill as way to meet calls of Indigenous women inquiry

The Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies says proposed changes to a bill that aims to end solitary confinement in prisons would help address many recommendations from the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Savannah Gentile, the group's director of advocacy and legal issues, says a package of amendments to Bill C-83 would give government the opportunity to take action on some of the inquiry's key findings.

A Senate committee has proposed adding judicial oversight to decisions about isolating prisoners as well as more emphasis and support for mental health and community-based options for rehabilitation.

Gentile says the bill if passed without the amendments would do little to address concerns raised in the inquiry report about the over-representation of Indigenous people, and especially Indigenous women, in Canadian jails.

The inquiry's final report delivered Monday included a deeper dive on the issue of incarcerated Indigenous women and systemic issues they face in the justice system.

The inquiry's 231 ``calls to justice'' included many focused on the corrections system, including calling for more community-based and Indigenous-specific options for sentencing.