Dalhousie Law Journal


inmates, rights, prison, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, parolees


A prison inmate is supposed to have the same basic rights as any other citizen, except to the extent that such rights are circumscribed by physical confinement. This may be surprising to many prison authorities, and most of the general public. The point was made forcefully by Mr. Justice White of the United States Supreme Court in Wolffv. McDonnelI But though his rights may be diminished by the needs and exigencies of the institutional environment, a prisoner is not wholly stripped of constitutional protections when he is imprisoned for crime. There is no iron curtain between the Constitution and the prisons of this country. Until recently these comments could be easily dismissed as American constitutionalism which was inapplicable north of the 49th parallel. However, Canada now has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms of her own. The provisions of the Charter apply to federal penal institutions and to the provincial penal institutions of any province which does not opt out of the relevant Charter provisions by using the over-ride clause.