Solitary Confinement

Last year I had the opportunity to attend a conference and be apart of important changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Mental Health Act.

I am reminded of that conference experience when I read the article in the Globe and Mail titled Prisons grapple with increase in mentally ill female inmates.

The one thing that I would have liked to see included in that article would be the numbers of those women and their corresponding ethnic/racial background.

I only say this because in another article on another website I discovered in my research for my upcoming political science essay, I found this quote:

“In 2004, Renée was the first woman in Canada to be placed on the Management Protocol (MP), a punitive system which involves prolonged periods in solitary confinement…Currently, the four women on the MP are all Aboriginal women. Locked up for 23 hours per day in cells approximately 8′ x 12′, with access to an exercise yard of c.15 x 12 metres for the remaining hour, they have very restricted physical outlet for pent-up emotion..

This above quote was taken from the article titled, “Oppose Dangerous Offender Designation for Indigenous Women” on the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women website.

At the time this article was written (November 10, 2010), it states that the only four women on the MP (in solitary confinement) are Aboriginal. In the Globe and Mail article it states,

Women in maximum security, who often suffer the most serious mental problems, are not permitted to enter in-prison psychiatric units because they are deemed too dangerous.

I wonder if there is a connection or correlation to the number of women in prison and their ethnic background/mental health issues. In other words, are there are a high rate of Aboriginal women in prison who have mental health issues in solitary confinement/isolation cells?

As an Aboriginal woman, I would like to see that issue explored more.

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