December 17, 2016
A former Edmonton inmate, Matthew Hamm, successfully sued against his six-week solitary confinement. Since the court ruled in favour of Hamm on August 8, Hamm has been outspoken on his treatment while in prison, reports the CBC. He and two other inmates are also suing the Attorney General of Canada for $5.6 million over their treatment in solitary.
Hamm was completing his five-and a-half-year sentence when he was placed in solitary confinement on June 28. Also known as “the hole”, solitary is an indefinite placement that doesn’t require an initial hearing to justify its use. Hamm and five other inmates were initially told they’d be moved to their own unit, but were placed in solitary. Court documents state that the group was moved because they planned to harm correction officers. Hamm contested the claim and filed a habeas corpus.
A habeus corpus is a way to report unlawful detention or imprisonment. Hamm claims that the correction officers retaliated against him. However, he was able to use his time in solitary to work on his habeus corpus.
By the time Hamm won and was released back into the general prison population, he had served 43 days in solitary. Under the Correction and Conditional Release Act, inmates are only permitted to spend 30 days in solitary.
The Current Lawsuit
The men claim that solitary was “cruel and unusual punishment”. The state of solitary was “grossly disproportionate and failed to comply with principles of fundamental justice”. Correctional Service Canada states that inmates in solitary receive daily health care visits, inspections, visits by the warden, and access to visitors and support. Hamm said that this was not his experience at all. As per the CBC, Hamm states that the lawsuit “is his way of speaking up for those in similar situations who may not be able to do so for themselves”.
Read more about this case on the CBC news website.
Story source: CBC
Featured image source: Right on Crime