Position Paper: Administrative Segregation

POSITION: Abolish Administrative Segregation

Women’s Wellness Within: An Organization Serving Criminalized Women calls for the abolishment of administrative segregation (solitary confinement) for all criminalized women, and especially pregnant women in Canadian correctional facilities. We believe that administrative segregation violates sections of the Charters of Rights and Freedoms.

Administrative segregation violates Section 7, which guarantees all Canadians to the right to life, liberty, and security. In prolonged administrative segregation, prisoners lack access to independent review of segregation and lack counsel for segregation review hearings.

Further, we believe administrative segregation is in violation of Section 15, which prevents discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age, and mental or physical disability. Due to the increasing numbers of incarcerated women, and the over-representation of indigenous people, mental illness, and youth in Canadian correctional facilities, we believe administrative segregation is excessively discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional to a large percentage of incarcerated individuals.

There is significant evidence of the adverse effects of administrative segregation, including an increased risk of self-harm and suicide, psychological stress, and serious mental health effects. Most criminalized women have histories of sexual and physical abuse, traumas that put them at risk of self-harm, and issues with addiction and mental illness. Administrative segregation of this population only perpetuates and exacerbates the pre-existing discrimination and disadvantages these individuals experience.

Additionally, an estimated six to 10 percent of incarcerated women are pregnant. Given that pregnancy and postpartum are periods of elevated risk for developing new mental illness, it is extremely pertinent that no pregnant woman is subjected to the torture of administrative segregation.  

We ask for amendments to the federal Corrections and Conditional Release Act to ensure that there are fairer and less harmful conditions for imprisoned individuals. We ask for the immediate abolishment of administrative segregation now, for all, and especially for pregnant women, children, transgender, and binary individuals.

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Grace Szucs