Charabelle Silverfox, an inmate at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre, has filed a petition against jail officials claiming that she’s being kept in conditions mirroring separate confinement. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse Correctional Centre inmate files petition over alleged separate confinement without legal protections

An inmate at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre has filed a petition against jail officials claiming that she’s being kept in conditions mirroring separate confinement, but without any of the legal protections.

Charabelle Silverfox, in a petition filed to the Yukon Supreme Court Sept. 29, said that she’s been kept separate from the jail’s general population since July 15 without adequate justification and with adverse effects to her mental health.

However, because her situation has been labelled “Third Tier placement” instead of separate confinement, officials have “circumvented the prescribed legal framework for separately confining prisoners and therefore deprived her of the due process and legal protections contained in that framework.”

Tyler Muray, the acting superintendent at the WCC, and Andrea Monteiro, the Yukon government’s director of corrections, are listed as respondents.

Neither has yet filed a reply and Silverfox’s case has not yet been tested in court.

Department of Justice spokesperson Fiona Azizaj said in an email Oct. 1 that the department would not be commenting on the petition or the allegations as the matter is before the courts.

According to the petition, Silverfox, one of two women facing first-degree murder charges in the 2017 death of Derek Edwards in Pelly Crossing, was residing in the general population on the first tier of the jail’s Bravo Unit up until July 15.

On that day, she was moved to Third Tier, which the petition describes as “a more restrictive tier used for segregation, medical observation and COVID-19 isolation.”

She received a form later the same day saying she was in “non-disciplinary segregation.”

“The petitioner was not provided procedural fairness in the initial decision to place her in non-disciplinary segregation as the petitioner was not offered a meaningful opportunity to rebut her placement,” the petition alleges.

Since then, Silverfox has received forms saying she’s no longer on non-disciplinary restrictive confinement but is being kept on the Third Tier “due to current and past assaultive behaviour and non-compliance with officer directions.”

The petition notes that recent reforms to the Corrections Act and associated regulations lay out procedures, definitions, time limits and opportunities for formal reviews and appeals when it comes to segregation and separate confinement. However, it alleges that Silverfox, who has made verbal and written complaints about her placement on Third Tier, has been told her situation does not meet the definition of separate confinement.

It alleges that she hasn’t been provided the legal authority for her placement on Third Tier, “and therefore has had no meaningful opportunity to rebut the placement.”

The petition also notes that Silverfox is being treated for mental health issues, including those related to childhood and intergenerational trauma, and that her isolation on Third Tier has allegedly led to a further deterioration of her mental health status.

Silverfox is asking the court to order that she be “released from separate confinement on the Third Tier” and returned to the women’s general population on First Tier, as well as a declaration that her current placement meets the definition of “non-disciplinary segregation or restrictive confinement” under the Corrections Act.

She’s also seeking an expedited hearing of her petition “due to the significant ongoing and unlawful deprivation of her liberty and the severe negative consequences of the separate confinement on her mental health.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

solitary confinementWhitehorse Correctional CentreYukon justice department

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