This is the second Annual Report of the East Coast Prison Justice Society (“ECPJS”) Visiting Committee (“VC”).
The purpose of the ECPJS VC is to bring increased accountability and transparency to the Nova Scotia correctional system in light of human rights standards, domestic and international. While the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia provides human rights monitoring of conditions of incarceration experienced by women and non-binary people in federal prisons and provincial jails in the Atlantic region, and the federal Office of Correctional Investigator provides further oversight of conditions in federal prisons, there is no comparable independent oversight of provincial correctional facilities, specifically the units reserved for men.1 The VC initiative, launched in 2020, represents our effort to fill this gap.
The core of the VC’s work involves engaging with prisoners in men’s units of Nova Scotia’s provincial correctional facilities to identify systemic concerns about conditions of confinement and then bringing these concerns to the attention of jail administration and the public, with the hope of producing systemic change. We also provide individualized non-legal advocacy, working with prisoners and correctional staff to resolve individual problems.
Finally, we work actively with other organizations in the region to increase opportunities for incarcerated people to access legal advocacy in matters relating to conditions of confinement (e.g., solitary confinement) and other human rights while incarcerated. This is an ongoing challenge, as there is little publicly funded legal assistance available for prison law matters in Nova Scotia or the Atlantic region more broadly.
Sheila Wildeman et al, Conditions of Confinement in Nova Scotia Jails Designated for Men: East Coast Prison Justice Society Visiting Committee Annual Report 2021-2022 2nd Annual Report (Halifax: East Coast Prison Justice Society, 2023).