Solitary confinement in Ontario's correctional institutions may soon be a thing of the past.  Ottawa-Vanier MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers is looking to establish a five-year plan to gradually phase out solitary confinement in Ontario. Des Rosiers is introducing a private member's bill to eliminate the practice.

If Des Rosiers' private member bill passes, it would limit the number of days that inmates would be forced to spend in solitary confinement to no more than 60.

The bill also stipulates that medical staff would be required to provide daily care to those inmates and that an independent oversight body must be forged to manage the use of solitary confinement, CBC reports.

Yesterday, at a news conference at Queen's Park, Des Rosiers explained that while prison inmates should indeed "pay their debt to society", they must not jeopardize their potential to be rehabilitated.  "This aspiration is fundamentally at odds with our continued unconstitutional use of prolonged solitary confinement."

She also said, "Far from the spirit of rehabilitation, solitary confinement needlessly damages people, makes reintegration difficult and has exacerbated the mental health crisis."

Nearly one month ago, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that extended solitary confinement "outrages standards of decency and amounts to cruel and unusual treatment."  Based on that ruling, Ontario's top court created restrictions on how long inmates can spend in a row in solitary confinement, limiting inmates to 15 consecutive days.

According to Des Rosiers' public statement on Wednesday, her bill is intended to mirror that ruling, while also going "a bit further".

"[Solitary confinement] has been proven over and over to cause serious psychological impact," she commented on CBC Radio's All In A Day.  "And the fact that the courts have ruled it as cruel and unusual punishment expresses the way in which it's not a practice we should keep in our toolbox."

The bill was adopted by the House of Commons and is now before the Senate.

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