A N.S. Supreme Court judge has ordered that a part of a federal law that placed a New Brunswick woman in solitary limitation for 16 days on suspicion of concealing pills within her vagina is unconstitutional. According to Justice John Keith’s ruling, a section of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms’ protection on gender discrimination.
A year ago, the judge, who heard the case in Truro, Nova Scotia, gave Parliament six months to change the law to no longer discriminate against women.
Keith was responding to a provision of federal law that allows the practice of “dry celling,” which involves placing convicts in a cell without running water or toilets so that their human feces can be analyzed for hidden substances.
Lisa Adams’ lawyers argued that the rule was discriminatory. It was designed to identify substances hidden in the rectum and didn’t account that a substance suspected of being hidden in the vagina wouldn’t continuously be discharged during the detention.
According to Keith, the negative consequence of the existing law for women like Adams is that it can lead to “protracted dry cell detention.”
In May 2020, she spent 16 days in a dry cell at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro. Adams’ dry cell incarceration was improper in her instance. Still, the federal attorney general claimed that a separate constitutional process should have been undertaken to have the law’s offending clauses thrown down.
The judge, however, rejected the procedural objection and authorized Jessica Rose and Emma Halpern of the Elizabeth Fry Society to present their constitutional arguments on Adams’ behalf.
The attorneys detailed their client’s suffering during the trial while she was held in a dry cell.
Adams, who was convicted for drug trafficking at the time of her trial, was detained in segregation because correctional staff suspected she had stored methamphetamine in her vaginal area while on parole. She was given an ultimatum: either furnish the substance or face a 14-day term of segregation and observation.
Source: City News Everyday
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