It’s the latest lawsuit faced by the embattled Ministry of Children and Family Development.
“This is the exact last person you need to be putting in solitary confinement, right?”
A BC youth who came to Canada as a refugee from South Sudan and ended up in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development is taking the province to court.
His lawyer says he spent four months in the equivalent of solitary confiment at Burnaby’s Youth Detention Centre, a facility operated by the ministry.
“When I first heard about it, to be honest, I didn’t believe it.
Laywer Chris Terepocki says the Youth Custody Regulations are clear: A young person can spend a maximum of 72 hours in separate confinement.
But his 17-year-old client spent four months there beginning in November of 2014, after assaulting a worker at the centre.
“They had strict memos sent to staff saying, listen, there’s to be no contact with him, or if there is you’re supposed to keep it extremely limited. For all intensive [sic] purposes, he sat there with no interaction with humans.”
The teen was in custody facing charges of murder and attempted murder. But Terepocki says even in adult prison, he hasn’t seen a case like this.
“I practice prison law. I know for adults nothing like that would ever fly, there’s very strict checks and balances in terms of reviews. In this case, it seemed to be the Ministry’s position that he’s technically not in solitary confinement anymore so this is all we can do.”
The suit claims negligence on the part of the ministry, and that the teen’s Charter rights to life, liberty and security of person and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment were violated.
None of the allegations has been proven.
The Ministry says it cant comment directly on the case, because it is before the courts.
But it issued a statement on detention practices, explaining:
On very rare occasions, separate confinement arrangements are made for youth at a custody centre. This is done to ensure the safety of other youth and staff at the facility, and to ensure the needs of an individual youth can continue to be met through consistent access to staff, education, and regular programming. These rare circumstances are continuously reviewed to assess when it is safe, and in the youth’s interest, to be reintegrated with other youth.