Goodale disputes charge that bill maintains solitary confinement by another name

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale is disputing claims that a bill to end solitary confinement in Canada's prisons is merely ``linguistic trickery'' that maintains the practice under a different name.

Goodale says the bill, which would create new ``structured intervention units,'' is much more than semantics.

He says inmates confined to such units would get twice as much time out of their cells and at least two hours of meaningful human contact every day.

As well, he says they'd have access to mental health care, rehabilitation programs and other intervention services not available to segregated prisoners now.

Goodale says the objective is to limit as much as possible the use of segregation, but there are instances in which it will remain necessary to separate prisoners, for their own safety and that of other inmates and guards.

He is responding to criticism from independent Sen. Kim Pate, a former prisoners' rights advocate, who argues the bill simply rebrands the cruel practice of solitary confinement with a new name.