Administrative law – Prisons – Visiting rights – Judicial review applications – Compliance with legislation – Mootness – Breach of procedural fairness
McGahey v. Joyceville Penitentiary,  F.C.J. No. 1281, Federal Court of Canada – Trial Division, September 19, 2002, Gibson J.
On September 30, 2000, the Applicant and her daughter went to the Joyceville Institution to visit the Applicant’s husband. It was a busy day, and a drug sniffing dog was present to ensure that all of the visitors were clean. When the dog approached the Applicant, it became excited and the Applicant was told that she could not have a “closed visit”. The Applicant refused to leave the Institution without a “closed visit” and in the result, the Kingston Police were eventually called to escort the Applicant out of the premises. Subsequently, and without notice to the Applicant or her husband, a “risk assessment” was completed at the Institution with a view to determining the Applicant’s future visiting status. Based on the Applicant’s behaviour in this instance and in the past, it was determined that she should not have full visiting privileges. Upon conclusion of the assessment, the inmate was advised that the Applicant’s visiting privileges had been suspended for 30 days. The Applicant appealed the decision to the Federal Court of Canada. The court noted that the decision to suspend the Applicant’s visiting privileges was a “correctional decision” within the ambit of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, S.C. 1992, c. 20 and that the decision should have been made in a fair manner. The court further held that the decision was made with an “absence on the part of the respondents of any semblance of fairness in considering, and eventually determining, to suspend the Applicant’s visiting privileges for a period of 30 days”. As the suspension was long since over at the time of trial, the issue was clearly moot and there was little or no purpose to be gained in setting it aside.
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