Toutsaint lawyers make case for injunction

Saskatchewan Penitentiary. Herald File Photo

Lawyers for a prisoner who claims to have spent more than 2,100 days in segregation argued for an injunction in court Wednesday morning.

Prisoners’ Legal Services (PLS) filed an injunction on Feb. 27 on behalf of Joey Toutsaint, who was being held in segregation at Saskatchewan Penitentiary.

PLS said in a press release that he was self-harming on a regular basis and thinks of suicide almost every day. They are hoping to have him moved to the Regional Psychiatric Centre.

Once the injunction was filed, the federal court issued multiple interim orders, requiring among other things, that Toutsaint be held in the health care unit at Sask Pen and that he be provided at least three hours of human contact per day.

“Mr. Toutsaint’s case builds on several recent court decisions confirming that solitary confinement causes significant psychological harm, especially for those with preexisting mental health issues, and breaches prisoners’ Charter rights,” PLS wrote this week.

They argued that he is at great risk of death by suicide or self-harm and that he needs to be transferred to a therapeutic environment immediately.

“He must never be held — regardless of where he resides — in conditions that constitute solitary confinement.  We will also argue that he should have regular access to his Indigenous spiritual practices and to meaningful social and other activities for mental stimulation.”

A Correctional Services Canada psychologist and an independent psychiatrist have found that his psychiatric problems were deteriorating because of his isolation, and that being in solitary confinement was making him more suicidal.

Toutsaint is from Black Lake. In 2015, he was declared a dangerous offender and, on appeal, handed an indeterminate sentence. Justice Neil Caldwell wrote that Toutsaint has spent most of his adult life in prison,” mostly in segregation, and “has no interest in any programming.”

Of his 30 convictions for violent offences, eight of them were committed while he was in custody. The dangerous offender hearing was sparked by a Saskatoon riverbank robbery in July of 2009.