The court declined to exercise its habeas corpus jurisdiction upon an application by an inmate in administrative segregation on the grounds that there were other alternative means by which the Applicant may have contested his detention

23. November 2004 0

Administrative law – Prisons – Discipline of inmates – Remedies – Habeas corpus – Alternative remedies

Condo v. Bath Institution, [2004] O.J. No. 3760, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, September 14, 2004, Polowin J.

The Applicant was serving a five-year prison sentence in a medium security institution. He had been placed in administrative segregation, pursuant to section 31(3)(a) of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act, S.C. 1992, c.20, on the basis of a number of alleged misdeeds during his incarceration. After being placed in administrative segregation, the Applicant participated in a review of his segregated status. He was given only limited information pertaining to the basis for his segregation on the rationale that the release of further information could seriously threaten the safety and security of prison sources.

To dispute an administrative segregation decision, an inmate can file a complaint with the supervisor of the Security Intelligence Officer. Beyond this, an inmate can commence a three-tiered grievance process. The Applicant did not pursue the internal grievance process, instead choosing to commence this application for habeas corpus almost immediately after his placement in administrative segregation. It was the Applicant’s position that, since the three-tiered grievance process can take a considerable amount of time and his statutory release date was less than four months away, there were no other adequate remedies available to him other than this application.

The court considered whether it should exercise its habeas corpus jurisdiction. The case law established that a provincial superior court has jurisdiction to grant habeas corpus but that this was an extraordinary remedy of last resort. Except in exceptional circumstances, a provincial superior court should decline to exercise its habeas corpus jurisdiction, where the application is, in essence, a challenge to the exercise of a statutory power granted under a federal statute to a federally appointed individual or tribunal.

There were no exceptional circumstances on the facts of this case. The Applicant had not even attempted to pursue the internal grievance procedure. While the Applicant had deposed that the inmate grievance procedure can take several weeks, if not months, this evidence was speculative and by no means persuasive. The court declined to exercise its habeas corpus jurisdiction and the application was dismissed.

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