Matt Gurney: Why prisons will be 21st-century asylums for years to come

National Post | Full Comment

Ahead of a Human Rights Commission case launched against it, the Ontario government settled this week with Christina Jahn. Jahn, a 43-year-old woman, was incarcerated in a provincial jail between 2011 and 2012 after being arrested for shoplifting, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Suffering from serious mental illness, Jahn was essentially dumped in a segregation unit and largely ignored. Her lawyer acknowledges that she is difficult to deal with and manage, due to her erratic behaviour, but contended that long-term segregation is not an acceptable response to a person grappling with mental illnesses. Ontario, rather than defending itself, has granted the point by settling. Jahn will receive an undisclosed cash settlement, but the province has also committed to roll out an aggressive new series of policies and procedures for dealing with mentally ill prisoners.

This is a welcome step. The state of mental health care in Canada’s correctional systems…

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