Hill Times Hosts Criminal Justice Reform Panel

On Thursday, March 10, compelling voices in the corrections and mental health space engaged in an impactful policy panel discussion on criminal justice reform, hosted by the Hill Times, Canada’s politics and government newsweekly. The dialogue was framed by Howard Sapers, Correctional Investigator for Canada, who built an impossible-to-ignore case for the pressing need for system-wide reforms.

“The situation is not without hope,” said Sapers. “However, we must restore order and coherence and use the application of criminal justice judiciously.”

The panel was moderated by political broadcaster Catherine Clark and featured Union of Solicitor General Employees National President Stan Stapleton, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies Executive Director Kim Pate, Native Women’s Association of Canada Executive Director Claudette Dumont-Smith, and the MHCC’s own President and CEO Louise Bradley.

“People living with mental illness who are incarcerated endure double stigmatization,” said Bradley. “They’re labeled as the mad and the bad.”

Recounting her years working in forensics and corrections care, Bradley condemned the use of segregation and restraints to manage or observe inmates with mental illness or at risk of suicide.

“It is inexcusable to shunt people through a system that is ill-equipped to meet their needs and one that enacts methods far more likely to harm their potential for recovery than nurture it,” said Bradley.

The discussion was broad and ranging and sparked extensive engagement through an interactive question and answer session. Audience members were able to submit and vote on questions via smart technology, ensuring that the most relevant queries were posed to panelists.

“Sometimes, discussions like these raise more questions than answers,” said Bradley. “But the most important thing is to get people talking.”