April 23, 2021
The Hon. Mike Farnworth, MLA
Minister of Public Safety & Solicitor General Province of British Columbia
PO Box 9010 – Stn Prov Govt
Dear Mr. Farnworth,
Thanks for your reply of 1st February 2021 to our letter requesting information on solitary/separate confinement in B.C. Corrections. The link to data provided, however, does not lead us to any answers to our questions on its use in B.C. Corrections. You refer us to Access to Information, but we believe that it should be made publicly available. You must be well aware of the court cases brought on the subject and the serious concern in the public at large – and the media.
You and your officials will be well aware of what our concerns are: the extent of use of solitary/separate confinement, the over-representation of Black and Indigenous persons in it, and its deleterious consequences. We are also seeking comparative information from other provinces and territories and the federal CSC.
For each of the following nine items, we seek BC Corrections data for the latest fiscal year available and we seek the data broken down into separate tables for men and women, for sentenced individuals and those on remand, and separate for disciplinary and administrative solitary/separate confinement.
Below, we use the term ‘solitary/separate confinement’ to include admissions to all forms of solitary/separate confinement.
- Total number of admissions to custody, total distinct number of people admitted to custody (to account for people who are admitted more than once), and average daily count of people in custody.
- Number of individuals sent to solitary/separate confinement, and percentage of population in custody.
- Number and percentage of individuals sent to solitary/separate confinement broken down into reason for solitary/separate confinement (e.g. jeopardise institution/inmate safety/interfere investigation/discipline).
- Average daily counts of individuals in solitary/separate confinement.
- Average number of days spent in solitary/separate confinement, per episode and total for the year.
- Number of individuals in solitary/separate confinement, and percentage of population in custody, for each of: 1-4 days, 5-9 days, 10-14 days, 15-29 days, 30-59 days, and 60 days and up.
- Number and percentage of individuals in custody who are Indigenous and Black; and, number and percentage of individuals in solitary/separate confinement who are Indigenous and Black.
- Number and percentage of individuals in custody who are diagnosed with serious mental illness; and, number and percentage of individuals in solitary/separate confinement who are diagnosed with serious mental illness.
- Number and percentage of suicides for the population in custody; and, number and percentage of suicides for individuals in solitary/separate confinement.
We were pleased to see that your Department has brought in new measures, entailing renovations, to facilitate meaningful interaction (interview rooms, sliding windows), fresh air and outside views, provision for engagement with Indigenous partners, 21⁄2 hours each day out of cell. We trust that data on them will be furnished when some time has passed with them in place.
Catherine Ann Cameron, PhD, professor emerita
Ruth Elwood Martin, MD, FCFP, MPH
Lynn McDonald, CM, PhD, LLD (hon), professor emerita
(On behalf of The Campaign for the Abolition of Solitary Confinement https://abolishsolitary.ca/ )
Please respond to: firstname.lastname@example.org
cc: Hon. John Horgan, Premier
Hon. David Eby, Attorney General
Hon. Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations & Reconciliation Shirley Bond, MLA, Leader of the Opposition
Mike Bernier, MLA
Michael de Jong, MLA