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May 23, 2003


Prisoners Of Isolation: Solitary confinement in Canada, Professor Jackson's critically acclaimed first book, is now accessible on justicebehindthewalls.net

Published in 1983, Prisoners of Isolation charts the history of the Penitentiary as an institution of punishment and the role of solitary confinement as the centre-piece of penitentiary discipline, first in Europe, then in America, and the influence of this history on the Canadian penitentiary. The book looks back at the Canadian experience with solitary confinement in The Prison of Isolation, established in Kingston Penitentiary in 1894, and traces the use of solitary into the 20th century, culminating in the regime established at the BC Penitentiary in the 1960s-70s in the infamous "Penthouse". Through the vehicle of the landmark case of McCann v. The Queen, which successfully challenged the conditions in the Penthouse as cruel and unusual punishment, Prisoners of Isolation holds up for analysis the legality of carceral authority in the Age of Corrections. By reviewing the evidence and arguments presented to the Federal Court in this case Professor Jackson foreshadows many of the ideas and principles that were later to be reflected in decisions of The Supreme Court of Canada, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and The Corrections and Conditional Release Act. The book also contains Professor Jackson's Model Segregation Code, designed to subject the prisons ultimate power to the Rule of Law.

The story told by Prisoners of Isolation of the abuse of carceral authority in the practice of administrative segregation is continued in Justice behind the Walls particularly in Sector 4. But the two books are complimentary in other ways. Prisoners Of Isolation lays out a reform agenda, circa 1982, just as the Charter of Rights was introduced, and only a few years after the Canadian Courts had recognised the importance of judicial intervention in prison. New correctional legislation was still a decade away. Justice behind the Walls, published 20 years after Prisoners of Isolation, provides an assessment of how the new reforms have actually changed the scales of justice for prisoners, guards and prison administrators, and raises anew the challenges to Canadian law and society to implement human rights standards and the Rule of Law in the deepest recesses of Canadian institutions.

As with Justice behind the Walls, Prisoners of Isolation is supported by a full search function and a comprehensive electronic index. In the coming months we will be adding historical illustrations and photographs to the text.

To access Prisoners of Isolation,click on Publications and follow the links.

Michael Jackson