Focus On

Prison administration - Security classifications - Maximum

Thursday, March 16, 2017 @ 8:00 PM  


Appeal by an inmate from the dismissal of his application for habeas corpus challenging his initial security classification. The appellant was convicted and sentenced to two years and six months incarceration for break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence. His transfer to the federal prison system was delayed because he was facing outstanding charges. However, the intake assessment process was started while he was under provincial remand, and he was initially identified as being a medium security risk. However, after being advised of an incident in which the appellant shoved a correction officer, the appellant was classified as maximum security. Although the appellant denied assaulting a corrections officer, the information about the assault was never verified. As a result of the maximum security classification, the appellant was placed in solitary confinement and remained there until his transfer to a maximum security institution. The appellant asserted his classification decision was unlawful and caused a deprivation of his liberty. He claimed that Correctional Services relied on inaccurate information and he was denied procedural fairness. The application judge found that it was not open to the appellant to argue that there was a deprivation of residual liberty in the context of an initial security classification. He further found that only the Federal Court had the power to quash an initial security classification and grant a remedy. The appellant appealed.

HELD: Appeal allowed. The application judge made two material errors. The application judge was wrong in concluding that there was no remedy available within the jurisdiction of a provincial superior court. The error was entangled with his conclusion that there was no deprivation of liberty. The application judge simply relied on his perceived lack of remedy to conclude there could be no deprivation of liberty. He bypassed any assessment based on the evidence before him of whether the appellant’s residual liberty was impacted by the initial security classification. The application judge’s failure to conduct a proper deprivation analysis was also an error of law. There was uncontroverted evidence that the appellant’s liberty was abruptly curtailed upon receiving his initial classification. Upon being notified of his classification, the appellant was immediately moved to solitary confinement. The available remedy was to return the appellant to his previous terms of confinement at the remand centre.