B.C. association files lawsuit to stop practices akin to solitary confinement

A B.C. association has filed a lawsuit against the federal government in the hope of stopping practices it says are not unlike solitary confinement.

In a statement Wednesday, the BC Civil Liberties Association said it hoped the lawsuit would stop wardens and federal prisons from isolating people using lockdowns and "restrictive movement routines."

The organization alleges these practices are used to lock down institutions as a whole or to set restrictive schedules "that isolate people to their cells for days, weeks and months at a time."

"We know that isolating people indefinitely has devastating impacts on their physical and mental health. It dramatically increases the risk of suicide," said Megan Tweedie, senior counsel for BCCLA, in a news release.

"Long-term solitary confinement by any name cannot be allowed to continue."

The BCCLA claims in its lawsuit that prisons don't have the authority to introduce indefinite lockdowns and restrictive movement routines, and argues the practices violate charter rights.

In 2019, the BCCLA challenged an administration segregation law and won.

"The administrative segregation law is gone, but, tragically, solitary confinement is not," said Grace Pastine, BCCLA's litigation director, in the release.

"We're going back to court because no one deserves to be held in such inhumane and degrading conditions … it's time to end this broken and dangerous system which causes extreme and sometimes permanent harm to the people who endure it."

The lawsuit will be heard in B.C. Supreme Court.