Senator says 'watered down' solitary-confinement reform bill will make make conditions worse

A senator says a bill that's supposed to end solitary confinement in Canadian prisons could actually make it worse.

Kim Pate spent most of her life advocating for women in the criminal-justice system before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named her to the Senate in 2016.

She says Bill C-83, which the House of Commons has already passed and sent to the Senate, just renames segregation cells as, ``structured intervention units'' and removes caps on how long inmates can be kept in them.

The bill does say that prisoners in those units will have to be visited by health professionals, be allowed out of their cells for up to four hours a day instead of two, and get some meaningful human interaction each day.

The bill is partly an answer to a coroner's inquest into the death of Ashley Smith, a 19-year-old Ontario woman who died by suicide in 2013 after spending more than 1,000 days in segregation.

The government says the changes being proposed will mean better oversight of inmates who are separated from each other, in addition to the extra human contact.