Ms. Terry Baker, born July 14, 1985, was pronounced dead on July 6, 2016, when doctors removed the life support that allowed them to retrieve the organs she wished to donate. Terry had significant, well-documented mental health issues and spent much of her 14 years in prison in segregation. She died in the same segregation unit where Ashley Smith died in 2007, more than 30 months after the jury in the Ashley Smith inquest condemned the use of segregation for women with mental health issues;
Indigenous women and those with disabling mental health issues are amongst the fastest growing prison populations in Canada, and at the greatest risk of being harmed by or dying in segregation;
The Honourable Louise Arbour recently called for an end to the use of segregation and a review and remediation of the cases of those whose sentences have been made harsher due to their conditions of confinement;
The United Nations, Ontario and Canadian Human Rights Commissions, Supreme Court of Canada, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission have variously urged Canada to remedy the inequalities, isolation and over-incarceration of Indigenous Peoples, those with mental health issues, and women; and
The Prime Minister mandated the Ministers of Justice and Public Safety to implement the recommendations from the Ashley Smith Inquest and reduce incarceration.
We, the undersigned, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, call upon the Government of Canada to review and remedy the cases of all women prisoners placed in segregation in federal prisons for women over the past five years.