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Bill Blair says prison segregation oversight panel will get the data it needs

Last Updated Aug 27, 2020 at 12:01 pm PST

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair arrives at a news conference Tuesday June 9, 2020 in Ottawa. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair is stepping in to ensure important data is handed over to an advisory panel tasked with overseeing segregation of federal prisoners after the panel complained the Correctional Service of Canada blocked it from doing its job. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Bill Blair is stepping in to ensure an advisory panel tasked with overseeing the segregation of federal inmates will get the data it needs to do its job.

Anthony Doob, the criminologist who chaired the panel, said the Correctional Service of Canada did not provide it with usable information about the use of structured intervention units — considered an alternative to solitary confinement.

The Liberal government appointed the independent panel to oversee the implementation of these units for prisoners who pose risks to security or themselves.

Blair says in a statement today he has spoken with Doob about the “serious concerns” he raised about how the federal corrections service responded to its requests for data.

He says he will renew the appointments of those on the panel, which had either already expired or were set to expire within a few weeks, so it can complete its work.

Sen. Kim Pate, a longtime advocate for the rights of prisoners, says she believes the panel’s concerns highlight the need for judicial oversight over prisoner segregation.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2020.

The Canadian Press