News Release: Prisoners without immigration status in Canada win human rights

Prisoners’ Legal Services – Burnaby BC – October 22, 2018  On October 18, 2018, the Federal Court of Appeal decided that federal prisoners without immigration status in Canada are protected by the Canadian Human Rights Act. The Act protects the human rights of individuals who are “lawfully present in Canada”. A previous decision of the Federal Court of Appeal found that prisoners must have immigration status in Canada to be protected by the Act. Thursday’s decision finds that the previous decision was wrongly decided, and acknowledges that individuals who are serving sentences in Canadian… Read More

Submissions regarding Canada’s Third Universal Periodic Review

On July 16, 2018, PLS attended a meeting with representatives from the Department of Canadian Heritage regarding Canada’s United Nations Human Rights Council third universal periodic review of Canada. 107 member states participated in Canada’s review and made 275 recommendations for Canada to improve its human rights record. PLS identified the recommendations that highlighted the issues faced by prisoners in Canada and provided a written submission.

PLS appears before the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights

On August 11, 2018, Prisoners’ Legal Services appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights for its study on the human rights of prisoners in Canada. We recommend that Canada invest in community-based alternatives to incarceration, and to provide trauma-informed mental health services to prisoners with mental health issues. We call on government to abolish solitary confinement. You can read our written brief here.

BC College of Physicians and Surgeons must address ethical issues surrounding solitary confinement

August 14, 2018 – Burnaby BC – Prisoners’ Legal Services On August 9, 2018, the Health Professions Review Board issued an important decision requiring the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons to directly confront the issue of medical professionals’ ethical duties under the United Nations’ Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules) related to solitary confinement. Brent Crane, a prisoner who was held in long-term solitary confinement at a BC Corrections pretrial centre, brought a complaint to the College that alleged a psychiatrist violated professional standards when she… Read More

We’re hiring! Contract Lawyer/Prisoner Legal Education Project

Prisoners’ Legal Services (PLS) is looking for a passionate, problem solving, empathetic and dedicated lawyer for a 10-month contract position. We are a small non-profit society providing legal services to federal and provincial prisoners in the province of British Columbia. The position has two components: responsibility for the Prisoner Legal Education Project and parental leave coverage for our staff lawyer/legal advocate. Prisoner Legal Education Project: PLS produces legal education materials for prisoners on a range of topics to help clients pursue issues on their own. The contract lawyer would be responsible for… Read More

News Release: Human rights complaint calls for end to solitary for prisoners with mental disabilities and independent health care in federal prisons

BURNABY, BC, June 20, 2018 Today, the West Coast Prison Justice Society (WCPJS) filed a human rights complaint against the Correctional Service of Canada on behalf of prisoners with mental disabilities. “CSC is still using solitary confinement against prisoners engaged in life threatening self-harm, despite the overwhelming evidence that solitary confinement increases the risk of suicide” said Jennifer Metcalfe, Executive Director of Prisoners’ Legal Services (a project of WCPJS). The human rights complaint identifies the use of observation cells as another way that CSC keeps vulnerable prisoners isolated in conditions worse than segregation…. Read More

We’re hiring! Legal Advocate

LEGAL ADVOCATE Prisoners’ Legal Services is looking for a passionate, problem solving, empathetic and dedicated advocate for prisoners’ rights, with a focus on women prisoners, youth and health care issues. We are a small non-profit society providing legal services to federal and provincial prisoners in the province of British Columbia. The legal advocate position involves providing advocacy to prisoners regarding prison legal issues.  This work is primarily done by telephone, fax and email.  Advocacy on behalf of prisoners may involve summary advice, informal advocacy, providing written submissions and personal representation at tribunals…. Read More

News Release: Human Rights of Federal Prisoners with Opioid Use Disorder Being Violated, Says Prison Justice Group

June 4, 2018 – Burnaby BC Today, the West Coast Prison Justice Society (WCPJS) filed a complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Commission against Correctional Service Canada on behalf of all federal prisoners who have been denied life-saving treatment for opioid use disorder. Prisoners’ Legal Services (a project of WCPJS) spoke with approximately 75 Canadian prisoners suffering from opioid use disorder, many of whom reported waitlists for opioid substitution therapy of many months to over one year. WCPJS is concerned that prisoners are at great risk of fatal overdose, and HIV and… Read More

Solitary Confinement Public Panel Talk

Join us next Tuesday, February 6th for a free panel talk on the BC Supreme Court’s decision to end indefinite solitary confinement. On January 17, 2018, the BCCLA won a constitutional challenge to indefinite solitary confinement in federal prisons across Canada, but our work is far from over. Within 12 months, the government will have to decide how the BC Supreme Court’s ruling will be reflected in the law. Join us next week as we discuss what’s next in the fight against indefinite solitary confinement. Panelists will be unpacking the decision, its… Read More