SSO Supports Bill 6

Segregation can amount to a prison within a prison. It is well known that it can cause or exacerbate significant psychological distress, including psychosis, especially if prolonged or indefinite. On any given day over the last 10 years, between 5% and 7% of people in Ontario’s correctional facilities were in segregation, and in 2016, segregation terms ranged from one to over 1,500 days.

Vulnerable groups are disproportionately impacted by segregation. In 2016, for instance, individuals with a mental health and/or suicide risk alert spent, on average, approximately 30% more time in segregation compared to the rest of the segregated population.

The Schizophrenia Society of Ontario (SSO) strongly supports Bill 6, Correctional Services Transformation Act that will address the overuse of segregation in Ontario’s correctional institutions. The milestone legislation takes critical steps to: 
  • Defining segregation not in relation to a physical space, but rather the conditions, including the deprivation of meaningful human contact
  • Using segregation as a last resort and for as short an amount of time as possible
  • Banning segregation for longer than 15 consecutive days, and limiting segregation to no more than 60 days for any individual within a 365-day period
  • Establishing baseline conditions of confinement for people in segregation that are as least restrictive as possible
  • Prohibiting segregation for vulnerable groups, including people with mental health problems, people who are chronically self-harming and people who are suicidal
Erin Boudreau, SSO’s manager of policy of community engagement and Antonella Scali, SSO’s policy analyst, recently presented recommendations for implementing Bill 6 to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy. Read the full transcript here.

SSO has been a vocal advocate of better supports for persons who are incarcerated and live with mental illness. Read more about our work here

In addition, SSO convened a coalition made up of organizations and individuals concerned with supporting the health and well-being of people who are incarcerated by promoting mental health, health equity and restorative justice.
The Coalition on Reforming Segregation in Ontario’s Correctional Institutions works to call attention to the damaging practice of segregation and to the immediate reforms needed to mitigate associated harms across provincial correctional facilities for incarcerated persons. Read about the coalition here.