The Campaign for the Abolition of Solitary Confinement has a BC team, consisting of three core members: Dr Ruth Elwood Martin, clinical professor, School of Population and Public Health, UBC, clinical professor emerita, UBC, a former prison doctor, and former chair of the Prison Interest Group of the College of Family Physicians of Canada; Dr Ann Cameron, professor emerita of Psychology, UBC; Dr Max Cameron, professor of Political Science, UBC, plus Dr Lynn McDonald, Toronto-based, professor emerita of Sociology, a former MP, but born in BC, BA from UBC and experience in BC Corrections. More recruits welcome!
Since solitary confinement is disproportionately used on Indigenous persons, we reached out to the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Justice Council, both of which support us on our abolition campaign.
The BC team as well, early on, contacted BC legislators urging support of abolition. Adam Olsen, Green MLA for Saanich North and the Islands, responded positively. He had a private member’s bill introduced which we support enthusiastically. It does not provide for full abolition, but limits the use of solitary to three days, and that no more than twice a year. His bill also sets needed minimum conditions for the use of solitary, such as hours out of cell and outdoors, light by day, darkness by night. With the Olsen bill in place, suicides, attempts, self-harm and mental illness would be unlikely to occur.
The BC Team is also pursuing contacts with officials in the Department of Public Safety and Solicitor General. We have had constructive meetings with the Hon David Eby, initially as Attorney-General and now Premier.
Our letters to these people and their support can be seen in the following documents. Abolition is a challenge for politicians as well as ordinary citizens. Private members’ bills can make a point, but few get adopted. We need help across the province in taking the message to MLAs, government and opposition.
- Abolish Solitary brief prepared prior to the meeting with BC First Nations Justice Council. The resolution #2022-08 passed by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (located here) and the BC Assembly of First Nations (located here)
- FOIPPA letter and data from PSS. The records were to be published on the BC Governments’ Open Information Website www.gov.bc.ca/openinformation File: 292-30/PSS-2021-12561
- Adam Olsen’s PMB, June 2022
- Mr Olsen reintroduced the PMB in Feb, 2023
- Feb 2023 The BC Green press release
April 23, 2021 The Hon. Mike Farnworth, MLAMinister of Public Safety & Solicitor General Province of British ColumbiaPO Box 9010 – Stn Prov GovtVictoria, BCV8W 9E2 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…
Hon Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General and Hon. David Eby, Attorney General, Government of British Columbia 18 January 2020 Dear Mr Farnworth and Mr Eby We were encouraged to hear that the B.C. government is looking at the issue of solitary confinement (separate confinement), possibly by legislation, possibly by regulation. Naturally we would prefer legislation, as it is harder to undo it when put into place than regulations. You are aware that Yukon is the first jurisdiction to legislate limits on solitary: 15 days at any one time, a 5 day space between, and a maximum of 60 days over…