Solitary Confinement in Quebec Federal Penitentiaries
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The Canadian Government violated the rights of inmates placed in administrative segregation while incarcerated in federal correctional institutions, as was found by the Ontario and Quebec Courts in three separate class action lawsuits, Brazeau v. Canada, Reddock v. Canada and Gallone v. Canada.
The Courts awarded a base level of aggregate damages of approximately $28 million which will be divided equally amongst all persons who have spent 16 consecutive days or more in administrative segregation during the class period. Certain Class Members can also claim additional money through the process approved by the Courts in the Distribution and Individual Issues Protocol.
The claims process has begun on September 7, 2021. You can now claim.
Eligible for compensation?
Complete a Claim Form if all of the facts listed in one of the following two situations apply to you:
– You were placed in administrative segregation in a federal penitentiary in Canada
– for 16 consecutive days or more
– AFTER March 3, 2011.
– You have been placed in administrative segregation in a federal penitentiary in Canada.
– For any length of time
– AFTER July 20, 2009
– you were diagnosed by a doctor with an Axis I mental health disorder or borderline personality disorder before or during your incarceration
– you have suffered severely from your mental health disorder and have reported it to the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC).
The full definition of the class adopted by the Courts can be found in the Distribution and Individual Issues Protocol.
If you believe you are a Class member and wish to receive a compensation, you must claim by September 7, 2022.
How does all this work?
The entire claims process is outlined and explained in the Distribution and Individual Issues Protocol.
However, here are the important points to remember:
A claim is made by completing and submitting a Claim Form to Epiq. You will have until September 7, 2022, to claim. This means that the Claim Form must be electronically submitted, sent via mail (postmarked as of September 7, 2022) or received in person by Epiq at the latest on September 7, 2022.
By signing the Claim Form, you agree that CSC may provide portions of your carceral file to the class counsel. You will not have to make the request yourself. You may withdraw your consent for CSC to provide portions of your carceral file, but this implies that your claim will be made under Track 1.
There are three different tracks to claim and they each have pros and cons.
-Track 1 is the simplest and fastest way of claiming and requires little effort from you. However, you can only get a share of the aggregate damages of $28 million.
– Track 2 is a more complicated option which allows for claims up to a maximum of $50,000. This Track allows people who spent very long periods of time in segregation or who have been diagnosed with a mental illness, to receive larger damages than just a share of the aggregate damages.
-Track 3 is the most complicated process possible under the Protocol. It is quite similar to undertaking your own lawsuit, although solely based on a paper record, rather than oral evidence. Also, you will benefit from some general conclusions on the effects of segregation. These findings come from the Courts’ judgments in the Class Actions. The hearing through Track 3 is also called “an individual issues summary judgment”.
We have prepared a Track Selection Guide that shows you the major differences between the different Tracks.
On February 24, 2016, Arlene Gallone, represented by Trudel Johnston & Lespérance, launched a class action regarding solitary confinement. The lawsuit alleged that the practice of the Government of Canada of confining inmates to solitary confinement (such as administrative segregation) for more than 72 consecutive hours violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. Similarly, the lawsuit alleged that the solitary confinement of inmates with a mental health disorder violates both of these fundamental laws, regardless of the length of their placement.
On January 13 2017, the Superior Court of Quebec authorized Arlene Gallone to bring a class action in damages against the Attorney General of Canada. On February 28, 2017, the Plaintiff filed the Originating Application.
In 2018, the Government of Canada and the plaintiff entered in preliminary settlement discussions. These discussions were held jointly with two other class actions on behalf of prisoners that have been placed in administrative segregation: Brazeau v. Canada and Reddock v. Canada. The prosecution of the class action was suspended until December 2018 while the parties engaged in those settlement discussions. The parties did not reach an agreement, therefore the proceedings resumed in January 2019.
In June 2019, the Attorney General of Canada filed his defense. The out-of-court examination of representatives of the Correctional Service of Canada also took place in June 2019.
In 2019 and 2020, major decisions regarding solitary confinement have been rendered by the Ontario and British Columbia Courts of Appeal in related cases, namely Reddock v. Canada and Brazeau v. Canada, launched in Toronto by Koskie Minsky LLP and McCarthy Tétrault LLP. These final decisions confirm that administrative segregation violates rights protected by the Canadian Charter and that members must receive compensation.
On September 10, 2020, Justice Masse rendered a judgment confirming the responsibility of the Government of Canada in our file Gallone v. Canada. In this judgment, Justice Masse also changed the class definition to mirror the findings in Reddock and Brazeau. The lawsuit now covers 1) placements of more than 15 days and 2) placements of inmates suffering from certain mental health disorders (Axis I Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder).
On October 8, 2020, Justice Masse ruled that the collective recovery value for the members of the Gallone case was close to $ 5.9 million and that the members could claim additional damages through individual recovery. Judge Masse also approved the fees of the lawyers for the class members on the amount already obtained for the class members.
Justice Perell, from the Ontario Court of Justice, and Justice Masse, from the Quebec Superior Court, have rendered several decisions on the joint claims process for the Brazeau, Reddock and Gallone class actions. These decisions were rendered in five parts:
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