Published In

Canadian Journal of Law and Society

Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



solitary confinement, rights, litigation


This paper considers the role that litigation might play in ending the human rights crisis of solitary confinement in Canada while also examining the relationship of prisoner rights litigation to broader, anti-carceral social movements. The paper proceeds in four parts. The first section provides a brief overview of the widespread use of solitary confinement in Canada’s federal prisons and in provincial and territorial jails. Next, current litigation seeking an end to solitary confinement in the federal prisons system is located in the context of a long history of prisoner rights litigation in both the US and Canada. The third section considers the possibilities and challenges of pursuing prisoner rights litigation with broader critiques of the carceral state in mind. The paper ends with examples of anti-carceral lawyering efforts and identifies some elements of a prison abolitionist lawyering ethic.

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