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Ending the Isolation: An International Conference on Human Rights and Solitary Confinement Download as iCal file
Friday, 22 March 2013, 8:00AM
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About the Conference | Presenters | Conference Program | Sponsors | Registration | Location | Where to Stay |
Information for Participants 

About the Conference

Recent events have raised awareness of the troubling use of solitary confinement in countries such as Canada that claim a commitment to human rights:

  • the death of teenager Ashley Smith in a segregation cell in a Canadian women's prison in 2007 while correctional officers watched;
  • the recent Senate hearings in the United States into the widespread use of solitary confinement in that country; and
  • the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, calling for hard limits on the use of solitary confinement.

In the face of a substantial body of evidence establishing negative, long-term psychological effects of solitary confinement, it is widely used in places of detention around the world.
This conference will bring together academics, advocates, former prisoners, and human rights workers from Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia to shed light on and critique the growing use of solitary confinement in prisons and other places of detention.

Topics to be addressed include:

  • the psychological and other effects of solitary confinement;
  • international and comparative perspectives on practices of solitary confinement;
  • the normalization of solitary confinement, including prolonged and indefinite solitary, as acceptable correctional practice despite human rights norms;
  • connections between the use of solitary confinement and other practices of punishment and incarceration;
  • the deployment of solitary confinement and other secondary punishments as instruments to manage and control resistance among incarcerated populations; and
  • initiatives in various jurisdictions to limit or abolish the use of solitary confinement.

Space is limited so please register soon.



Bree Carlton (Monash University)

Bree Carlton, PhD, is Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Monash University, Australia. She has undertaken research and published widely in the areas of history and critical prison studies. Her book, Imprisoning Resistance: Life and Death in an Australian Supermax, was published by the Sydney Institute of Criminology Series in 2007 and nominated in the True Crime category of the 8th Davitt Awards in 2008. Her collaborative research with Marie Segrave has focused on gender, imprisonment and post-release survival. Her current research program has extended to focus more broadly on penal reform, abolitionism and transformative justice.


Abby Deshman (Canadian Civil Liberties Association)

Abby Deshman is Director of the Public Safety Program, Canadian Civil Liberties Association. She is currently involved in all aspects of CCLA’s advocacy and educational programs, including the litigation, legislative advocacy, policy work, and civil liberties workshops for high school and university students. Prior to joining the CCLA she worked with numerous local and international non-governmental organizations, including the United Nations High Council for Refugees in Kenya and Human Rights Watch’s Terrorism/Counterterrorism division in New York. During law school, she spent a term representing family, immigration and criminal law clients at Downtown Legal Services, the University of Toronto’s poverty law clinic. She was also a case worker in the law school’s International Human Rights Clinic, where she worked primarily on international human rights and counterterrorism issues, including the Clinic’s intervention before the Supreme Court of Canada in the Khadr case.


David Fathi (American Civil Liberties Union)

David C. Fathi is Director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, which brings challenges to conditions of confinement in prisons, jails, and other detention facilities, and works to end the policies that have given the United States the highest incarceration rate in the world.  He worked as a staff lawyer at the Project for more than ten years before becoming director in 2010, and has special expertise in challenging “supermax” prisons, where prisoners are held for months or years at a time in conditions of near-total isolation. From 2007 to 2010 Fathi was Director of the US Program at Human Rights Watch.  The US Program works to defend the rights of particularly vulnerable groups in the United States, and has published groundbreaking reports on the death penalty, prison conditions, racial discrimination, the rights of immigrants, and many other human rights issues.

Fathi has lectured nationally and internationally on criminal justice issues.  His op-eds have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle, and other major media outlets.  He is a graduate of the University of Washington and the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in Washington, DC.


Stuart Grassian (Psychiatrist, retired from Harvard Medical School)

Stuart Grassian is a Board-certified psychiatrist and was on the teaching staff of the Harvard Medical School from 1974 until 2002. He is a nationally recognized expert concerning the psychiatric effects of stringent conditions of confinement.  He has served as an expert in a large number of both individual and class-action lawsuits addressing this issue, and his observations and conclusions regarding the psychiatric effects of such confinement have been cited in a number of federal court decisions.  He has also provided testimony to State legislatures, has presented his findings in conferences, including at Harvard Medical and Law Schools, various State Bar Association meetings, The Office of Military Commissions of the Department of Defense (regarding Guantanamo detainees), and so forth, and has discussed his work in various media outlets, including newspaper, public radio, and documentary broadcasts, including among others, The Today Show, CBS Sixty Minutes, and National Geographic Television.


Kelly Hannah-Moffat (University of Toronto)

Kelly Hannah-Moffat, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Sociology, University, cross appointed to the Centre of Criminology. She worked as a policy advisor for Madame Justice Arbour on the Commission of Inquiry into Certain Events at the Prison for Women in Kingston and was the President of the Toronto Elizabeth Fry Society. In 2001, she received the Radzinowicz Memorial Prize for the best article in published in the British Journal of Criminology. She is currently a member of the Editorial Advisory Board for Punishment and Society, British Journal of Criminology, and Canadian Journal of Criminology. Dr. Hannah-Moffat studies risk, gender and diversity in penal and court systems. Her research has traced the historical antecedents of the internationally acclaimed “women-centred” model of penal governance employed in Canadian federal women’s prisons.


Michael Jackson (University of British Columbia)

Michael Jackson, Professor of Law at the University of British Columbia, has been involved in the teaching and advocacy of human rights for over thirty years, specializing in the areas of prisoners’ rights and Aboriginal rights. His courses on these subjects were the first to be introduced in a Canadian law school. Professor Jackson is a member of the bar of British Columbia and has represented prisoners and First Nations in landmark cases before the Supreme Court of Canada, including the Delgamuukw and Haida Nation cases. Professor Jackson is also a member of the Canadian Bar Association's Committee on Imprisonment and Release and has presented submissions on reform to the criminal justice system to committees of both the House of Commons and the Senate. In 1993 Professor Jackson was awarded the Bora Laskin National Fellowship in Human Rights Research and in 1999 was appointed Queen's Counsel by the Attorney General of British Columbia.


Lisa Kerr (New York University)

Lisa Kerr is a doctoral candidate in law at New York University, where she also completed an LL.M in 2009.  Her doctoral research concerns sentencing and the legal regulation of prisons and is supervised by David Garland. Lisa clerked at the B.C. Court of Appeal, articled at Fasken Martineau, and worked as staff lawyer at Prisoners’ Legal Services in Abbotsford, pursuing strategic litigation on human rights issues in federal and provincial prisons. Lisa works with Pivot Legal Society in pursuit of the decriminalization of sex work in Canada. She is a Doctoral Fellow of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and a 2012 Trudeau Foundation scholar.

Raji Mangat, B.C. Civil Liberties Association

Raji Mangat is Counsel at the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. She works on all aspects of the BCCLA’s litigation portfolio, including representing BobbyLee Worm in her lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of solitary confinement. Prior to her work at the BCCLA, Raji worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia and for Amnesty International. She was a litigation associate at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP in New York, where her pro bono practice included representation of victims of torture and political persecution, and death penalty appeals work. Raji served as a law clerk to the Hon. Justice Frank Iacobucci at the Supreme Court of Canada. She received her law degree from the University of Victoria.


Juan Mendez (United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment

Juan E. Méndez is a Visiting Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law, and since November 2010, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In 2009 and 2010 he was the Special Advisor on Prevention to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. He is also Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association. Until May 2009 he was the President of the International Center for Transnational Justice (ICTJ) and in the summer of 2009 he was a Scholar-in-Residence at the Ford Foundation in New York. Concurrent with his duties at ICTJ, the Honorable Kofi Annan named Mr. Méndez his Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, a task he performed from 2004 to 2007.

A native of Argentina, Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. As a result of his involvement in representing political prisoners, the Argentinean military dictatorship arrested him and subjected him to torture and administrative detention for more than a year. During this time, Amnesty International adopted him as a “Prisoner of Conscience.” After his expulsion from his country in 1977, Mr. Méndez moved to the United States.


Jennifer Metcalfe, Executive Director of Prisoners' Legal Services

Jennifer Metcalfe is the Executive Director of Prisoners’ Legal Services, a legal clinic that provides assistance to federal and provincial prisoners in British Columbia regarding liberty and human rights issues. She has worked as a lawyer at Prisoners’ Legal Services since 2006, and has represented prisoners with human rights issues, as well as before the federal and provincial courts and the Parole Board of Canada.

Tona Mills

Tona Mills is an amazingly strong, courageous and resilient woman, who survived more than 20 years of torture in juvenile and adult prisons.She and Ashley Smith experienced life and prison in strikingly similar ways. Mercifully, Tona survived, largely because her behavior was finally recognized as symptomatic of her mental health issues.Thereafter, she was extricated from punitive and administrative segregation -- isolation -- the bowels of incarceration. Today, Tona has not only lived to tell the tale, she thrives. We are grateful that she has the generosity to share her experience and expertise with us.


Debra Parkes (Robson Hall Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba)

Debra Parkes is an Associate Professor and Associate Dean (Research & Graduate Studies) in the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba.  She has been Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law since 2009. She researches and teaches in criminal and constitutional law, with a particular focus on equality rights and prisoners’ rights. She holds a multi-year grant from the Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) to investigate oversight and accountability of imprisonment in Canada.

Eric Parrie, JD 2013, Yale University

Eric Parrie, JD 2013, joined the Yale Visual Law Project, a workshop that produces documentary films and teaches law students to use film as an advocacy tool, in Fall 2012 and currently serves as its Co-Director. Prior to law school, he worked as a teacher and political organizer in Louisiana. Upon graduation, Eric will teach English at Carver Prep Academy, an open-enrollment charter high school located in New Orleans' 9th ward.


Kim Pate (Executive Director, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies)

Kim Pate is mother to Michael and Madison.  She is a lawyer and teacher by training and has completed post graduate work in the area of forensic mental health and was awarded an honourary doctorate by the University of Ottawa.  Kim is the Executive Director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) and a part-time professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.  CAEFS is a federation of autonomous societies which work with, and on behalf of, marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized women and girls throughout Canada. Kim has also worked with youth and men during her 30 years of working in and around the legal and penal systems.


Justin Piché (University of Ottawa)

Justin Piché, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa and Co-managing Editor of the Journal of Prisoners on Prisons ( He is the 2012 recipient of the Aurora Prize from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.  His research examines prison expansion and available policy alternatives, cultural representations of incarceration and punishment, penal geography, public criminology, and prisoner writing.


Phil Scraton (Queen's University, Belfast)

Phil Scraton is Professor of Criminology in the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice, School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast and Director of the Childhood, Transition and Social Justice Initiative. He has held visiting professorships at the University of Sydney Law School and Monash University, Melbourne and has contributed to Amherst College’s Inside-Out programme at Hampshire County Jail. He was Lowenstein Research Fellow at Amherst, 2013.

A regular contributor to academic journals and edited collections, his most recent books include: ‘Childhood’ in ‘Crisis’? (Routledge); Hillsborough: The Truth (Mainstream); Beyond September 11: An anthology of dissent (Pluto); Power, Conflict and Criminalisation (Routledge); The Violence of Incarceration (Routledge). The Incarceration of Women (Palgrave Macmillan) is in preparation. He edited recent special issues of Social Justice on Deaths in Custody and Detention and Current Issues in Criminal Justice on the criminalisation and punishment of children and young people. He is currently co-editing a further special issue of Social Justice on penal abolition, prison reform and the expansion of incarceration. He was a member of the Hillsborough Independent Panel (2010-2012) and primary author of the ground-breaking Hillsborough: The Report of the Independent Panel (2012). His current research includes the European funded international comparative project Children of Imprisoned Parents.


Sharon Shalev (Centre for Criminology, Oxford University)

Sharon Shalev is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Criminology, University of Oxford, and an Associate of the International Centre for Prison Studies. Dr Shalev's key research interest is the use of solitary confinement in prisons, and she has authored various publications on the subject, including the Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement. Her book, Supermax: controlling risk through solitary confinement (Willan, 2009) was awarded the British Society of Criminology’s Book Prize for 2010.  She is currently working on a project entitled “Excluding the excluded: European practices of solitary confinement, past and present”, supported by the John Fell Research Fund, whilst continuing to manage the informational website,

Ivy Wang, JD 2013, Yale University

Ivy Wang, JD 2013, joined the Yale Visual Law Project, a workshop that produces documentary films and teaches law students to use film as an advocacy tool, in Fall 2012 and currently serves as its Co-Director. Prior to law school, she produced and directed Guanzhou Modernized, a short documentary for the Asia Society on the fate of a Chinese fishing village slated for demolition. Upon graduation, Ivy plans to provide direct legal services to individuals in New Orleans suffering the collateral consequences of criminal arrests and convictions.


Ivan Zinger (Office of the Correctional Investigator, Canada)

Ivan Zinger, PhD, received his degree in Common Law from the University of Ottawa in 1992, and completed his articles of clerkship at the Federal Court of Canada.  In 1999, he obtained his Ph.D. at Carleton University (Ottawa) in Psychology of Criminal Conduct.  He is a Research Adjunct Professor with the Law Department at Carleton University. Dr. Zinger joined the Public Service of Canada in 1996.  For the past 15 years, he held a variety of senior managerial, policy and research positions in public safety-related federal departments and agencies.  In 2004, he joined his current employer, the Office of the Correctional Investigator (Federal Prison Ombudsman), and since January 2009, he is the Executive Director and General Counsel for that Office. His academic publications are significant and include articles on a variety of subjects, including prison oversight, ethics, dangerous offenders, correctional treatment, the diagnosis of psychopathy, conditional release, conditions of confinement, and penal segregation.

Conference Program

Download the full conference program in PDF click here pdficon_small - revised (updated March 21)

Information for Conference Participants 

Information for Conference Participants 

Directions to the conference, transportation (taxi and public transit), Winnipeg activities and restaurants click here pdficon_small


Conference location: Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba, Fort Garry Campus, Robson Hall Building is located at 224 Dysart Road.

Where to Stay

The Fort Garry Hotel, Spa & Conference Centre
222 Broadway
Winnipeg MB R3C 0R3
Telephone: 204 942 8251
Toll Free: 1 800 665 8088
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Please use coupon code 10J65U when booking.


Professor Debra Parkes email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Robson Hall Faculty of Law

The Centre for Human Rights Research at the University of Manitoba

SSHRC - The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

The Social Justice and Human Rights Research Project, University of Manitoba