Prisoners’ Legal Services
The West Coast Prison Justice Society operates Prisoners’ Legal Services, the only full legal aid clinic for prisoners in Canada. Many people in prison struggle with mental health issues, addiction, histories of trauma and poverty. Prisons can exacerbate these problems, exposing people to violence and harsh treatment, poor medical care, and other violations of their rights. For example, people with mental health problems are routinely placed in solitary confinement, where they are locked in a small cell for 23 hours per day, sometimes for weeks on end.
Our team of legal advocates works to make sure people in federal and provincial prisons across British Columbia are treated with dignity and that their rights are respected. We assist with issues that affect prisoners’ liberty rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, such as solitary confinement, involuntary transfers, parole suspensions, disciplinary hearings and more. We also assist prisoners with human rights and health care issues, ensuring that their right to be free from discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, marital status, family status and mental or physical disability is respected. Our liberty work is funded by the Legal Services Society of BC and our human rights and health care work is funded by the Law Foundation of British Columbia.
Our advocates take hundreds of calls each month from prisoners, and we have won landmark victories on their behalf.
Prisoners in British Columbia can access our services by calling the Legal Services Society Call Centre at 1-888-839-8889 for a referral. After getting a referral, prisoners can call us directly at 1-866-577-5245 (federal) or 604-636-0464 (provincial).
If you are interested in making a donation to our organization, please see our donations page.