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Before rendering my judgement on the basis of my latest inquiries, I should highlight a distinction within the population of segregated prisoners which assumes a larger significance than is apparent in the current legislation. Under both the old Penitentiary Service Regulations and the CCRA, the power to segregate a prisoner is founded on two broad, alternative bases: one is the risk the prisoner represents to the safety of other persons or to the security of the institution, and the other is the risk to the prisoner himself from other prisoners if he remains in the general population. Although there are cases in which prisoners placed in segregation for their own protection argue there is no basis for this fear, most prisoners segregated on this ground acknowledge that the fear is well-founded, and in many cases the prisoners themselves have requested that they be removed from the general population or have precipitated an incident in which such removal is the inevitable result. Thus, within the population of segregated prisoners, there has arisen a distinction between "involuntary" and "voluntary" cases.

As I have described in the Introduction to this book, one of the major changes in the Canadian prison system in the twenty-five years since I began my studies is the large increase in the number of prisoners designated as "protective custody" prisoners. The response of the Correctional Service of Canada to this increase has been to designate specific institutions as protective custody facilities. In a few institutions, one of which is Kent, the prison itself has been split into two populations -- general population and protective custody. However, even within a designated protective custody institution or the protective custody side of a larger institution, prisoners run into problems, often but not always of their own making, which pose a threat to their safety. These situations frequently result in a request from the prisoner to go into segregation, either until the problem is sufficiently resolved that a return to the population is safe or until a transfer to some other institution can be arranged. In a general population prison such as Matsqui, where prisoners encounter situations in which their lives or safety are endangered, often through the intersecting and conflicting lines of prison commerce, politics, and personalities, prisoners may find themselves with no choice but to request placement in segregation. From there, since protective custody prisoners are unwelcome in general population prisons, they are be left with no choice but to move to an institution designated for protective custody prisoners, either within or outside the region.

In Prisoners of Isolation, my critical focus was on the cases of prisoners who were segregated involuntarily. In this book I have broadened my focus to cover both involuntary and voluntary segregations, not only to identify the common issues affecting them but also in recognition that the differences between the two groups pose special, often intractable problems for prisoners and prison administrators.

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