Toronto Inmate Alleges He Was Subject to Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

An inmate at the Toronto South Detention Centre has alleged that he was subject to cruel and unusual punishment by court and jail staff. The inmate told City News that he spent two weeks with untreated broken bones and was denied treatment, trips to the hospital, and an x-ray by correctional staff.

What Happened?

The inmate broke his hand in a fight with another inmate in the holding cells at the College Park courthouse in Toronto in July. Court officers, employed by Toronto police, broke up the fight, but the inmate claims they then denied his request to go to the hospital to get treated. The officers allegedly asked the inmate whether he wanted to get medical treatment for his hand, but when he responded in the affirmative, they told him “There’s no getting out of here” and returned him to a holding cell.

Once in the Detention Centre, he saw a doctor at the facility, who informed him that he needed an x-ray, but that there was no x-ray machine on the premises. However, the inmate was never taken off the premises to receive the x-ray.

The inmate went back to court for another a scheduled bail hearing twelve days after the fight. At that hearing, the inmate’s lawyer requested that the inmate’s condition be put on the record, along with the fact that the injury occurred in the cells at College Park. The Crown attorney went on the record and indicated that he saw swelling and

The Crown attorney went on the record and indicated that he saw swelling and discoloration on the inmate’s hand and that it appeared to be lacking circulation. The Crown attorney also confirmed that the injury looked acute. The presiding justice of the peace ordered that the inmate be taken to a hospital, but that request was allegedly ignored.

The inmate claims that court officers told him that many people come to court with broken arms and legs and that the only time something is done about it is “when somebody can’t breathe or it’s a life and death situation”. The special constables at the court house were allegedly informed that it was “not their job” to help the inmate.

The inmate then spent the weekend following the bail hearing dealing with the pain while the Detention Centre was on lockdown. He claims he told corrections officers that he was in pain and that his hand was changing colours.

The inmate is now in a cast but was not able to get one until he was released and immediately went to the emergency room.

Response by Toronto Police and Correctional Services Canada

A Toronto police spokeswoman confirmed the inmate’s account of the fight, and said that Toronto Police initially offered assistance, but that the inmate refused both police assistance and medical care. She also noted that the police have no notes from the bail hearing.

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services told CityNews that it will not publicly address individual cases, particularly where the personal health matters of inmates are involved, but did note that “all inmates have access to health care services”. The Ministry said that it will investigate all allegations of improper care and custody of an inmate.

We have been blogging regularly about prison conditions in Canada and will continue to do so going forward. In the meantime, if you have questions about your legal rights, either during detention or otherwise, contact the skilled Oshawa criminal lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP. Our team has extensive experience defending a wide range of criminal charges. Whatever your issue, we can help. Call us at 905-404-1947or contact us online for a free consultation.

B.C Inmate Tells Court About Harrowing Experience in Solitary Confinement

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Last week we blogged about a trial that began at the B.C Supreme Court, reviewing the legality of Canada’s use of solitary confinement. The trial continues this week with testimony from inmates, including one inmate who told the court that he “felt like dying” while in solitary.

Testimony Begins

In 2015, the B.C Civil Liberties Association and the John Howard Society of Canada jointly sued the federal government over the use of solitary confinement (often referred to as “administrative segregation”).

James Lee Busch, a prisoner at B.C’s Mission Institution, is one of six inmates expected to take part in the trial and testify about their experience with solitary confinement.

Mr. Busch stated that he has been in solitary confinement eight times: three times while serving a sentence for aggravated sexual assault, and five times since he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 2010. Mr. Busch testified that he has spent nearly all of his adult life in prison, on probation, or on parole, and still struggles with his experiences in solitary.

His longest stay in solitary was 66 days, when he was at Saskatchewan Penitentiary in 2009. He was placed in solitary for passing a guard a note inviting her to call him once he was released and cursing a psychologist who wanted to prescribe him psychotropic medication (which he has had negative experiences with in the past).

Suicidal Feelings in Solitary

Mr. Busch’s 66-day period of solitary confinement began in October 2009, during which time he would spend 23 hours a day in a small cell. Almost immediately, Mr. Busch said he felt depressed, and that suicidal feelings began “almost as soon as the door of the cell closed behind [him]”. Prior to entering solitary, Mr. Busch had been taking high-school equivalency courses and was close to nearly graduating. While he was in solitary, he could not attend classes, and eventually lost motivation.

Mr. Busch’s segregation was reviewed four times during the period he was there, but it was not made clear how he was a threat to the institution. During his second review, Mr. Busch says he asked to be returned to the general population, as he knew that his mental state was deteriorating. His request was not granted.

During his third review, which occurred on Day 54 of the solitary confinement, Mr. Busch says he told the reviewers that he “felt like dying”. Mr. Busch further said that once he agreed to take the psychotropic medication that was originally prescribed to him, he was released into general population. He believes that his stay in solitary confinement was used to “coerce” him into taking the medication.

Mr. Busch testified that:

“I know that I have committed crimes and that I deserve to be punished for them. But, I am still part of this Canadian community and I do not believe that any Canadian deserves to suffer the consequences of segregation”

We’ve blogged regularly about prison conditions in Canada. We will continue to follow developments in this trial as it unfolds, and will provide updates as they become available.

The Oshawa criminal lawyers at Affleck & Barrison LLP have been protecting client rights since 1992. Our skilled team has extensive experience defending a wide range of criminal charges. Whatever the nature of your offence, we can help. Call us at 905-404-1947 or contact us online for a free consultation