September 18th, 2017
From September 11 – 15, 2017, LOLG lawyers appeared before the Associate Chief Justice of Ontario on behalf of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to argue that the federal law permitting solitary confinement of inmates is unconstitutional. The high-profile, week-long hearing was the culmination of two years of litigation against the federal government. The CCLA asked that the Court strike down the federal law as unconstitutional because it permits indefinite confinement and confinement of young adults under the age of 21 and those with serious mental illnesses, and because there is no independent oversight of a prison warden’s decision to place or keep an inmate in confinement. The CCLA presented voluminous medical evidence of the mental and physical harms caused by being locked alone in a cell for 22 or 23 hours a day and submitted first-hand evidence from inmates who have been kept in confinement for years.
LOLG lawyers, Jonathan Lisus, Larissa Moscu and Fahad Siddiqui, acted as pro bono counsel to the CCLA, along with a team from McCarthy Tetrault. The decision is currently under reserve.
The case represents the first constitutional challenge to the confinement provisions in the Corrections and Conditional Release Act. It has gained significant media attention, some of which is excerpted below.