The Mission Institution is Canada’s hardest hit prison amid the pandemic. (Black Press Media files)

The Mission Institution is Canada’s hardest hit prison amid the pandemic. (Black Press Media files)

Canadian prisoner files lawsuit over safety of inmates during COVID-19 pandemic

Suit says they’d like to see the timely release of federal prisoners

A prisoner and several human rights organizations have filed a constitutional challenge against the federal government over the safety of inmates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sean Johnston and the organizations that include the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Prison Law Association are trying to compel the government to take proactive steps to ensure prisoners’ safety.

They say they’d like to see the timely release of federal prisoners, especially for older inmates or those who have underlying health conditions.

The suit alleges Correctional Service Canada cannot keep prisoners safe because it cannot ensure the proper physical distancing measures without reducing the prison population.

Johnston is serving a life sentence in an Ontario prison for murder and says many inmates remain in cells with bunkbeds.

As of Monday, more than 200 federal prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19 and two inmates have died of the disease.

READ MORE: Voices from inside Canada’s worst COVID-19 prison outbreak at Mission Institution

The Canadian Press

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