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SSO Encouraged by Sapers' Recommendations on Correctional Reform

The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO) strongly supports recommendations outlined in the interim report released by Howard Sapers, the Independent Advisor to the Independent Review of Ontario Corrections. We are encouraged by recommendations to prohibit the use of segregation for those with significant mental health issues, to end indefinite administrative segregation, to improve access to mental health assessment and care and to improve transparency and clarity around segregation policies and practices. 

Segregation is the most severe form of incarceration used in Canada, posing the risk of significant psychological distress or exacerbation of symptoms of mental illness, especially if lengthy or indefinite. This practice of prolonged isolation with severely limited access to activities, programs and freedoms is particularly concerning for people with schizophrenia and other severe and persistent mental illness, who often experience symptoms of anxiety and depression in addition to psychosis.

Recent reports highlight the troubling overuse of segregation in Ontario’s correctional facilities for people with mental health issues.  Despite recent changes in policies to address the over-use of segregation for this group, Sapers’ report points out that mental health screening, assessment and provision of care is inconsistent and frequently delayed and that the percentage of segregated individuals with suicide risk and mental health alerts has increased, even though the percentage of people experiencing these concerns has not.

To address these concerns, we urge the immediate adoption of the recommendations in this report and the ongoing engagement of people who are most affected by these policies and their advocates. We are pleased by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ commitment to reforming the practice of segregation within Ontario’s Correctional Services and look forward to working with them in this area.

We continue to call for an end to the current practice of segregation and support expanded and ongoing training and supports for all correctional staff, increased access to mental health diversion programs, improved reintegration planning and expanded alternatives to detention as part of broader reform.

The full review can be found here:

To view SSO’s submission to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services’ Provincial Segregation Review, click here:,-Submissions-Letters/Segregation-Review-Submission-May-5-2016-final.pdf.aspx

The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario is a charitable health organization that supports individuals, families, caregivers and communities affected by schizophrenia and psychosis across the province.