Last Tuesday I was sitting in an examination room as a new doctor looked at my chart. (Like airline pilots, doctors seem to get younger every day.) When he flipped the pages to read my name again, he stopped, trying to remember something, and then said, “Donald Best… Donald Best. Did you write that column in the Globe and Mail yesterday?”
When I confirmed that I was the author, he called in a nurse, made introductions and the three of us spent the next 15 minutes discussing solitary confinement, my column and how a ‘nice man’ like me came to be housed with some of Canada’s most dangerous prisoners.
It is apparent that my Globe and Mail article ‘Solitary confinement is pure torture. I know, I was there“ touched many of my fellow Canadians who were unware of the horrors of solitary confinement in our prisons.
Prior to my own incarceration for 63 days, I too hadn’t thought much about solitary confinement, and when I did I had no idea about the reality – this despite three decades of service in public and private law enforcement.
But my article resonated with ordinary people, for which I am grateful – because solitary confinement is torture, nothing less. It is not what my Canada is about – or should be about.
In the last week, I received over one hundred emails and other messages of encouragement from all across Canada. My website saw an increase of several thousand additional visitors, and many journalists opened communication with me. I made guest appearances on two ‘talk-radio’ shows in Ottawa and Montreal. Several lawyers contacted me to inquire whether I would provide testimony to assist their clients who are incarcerated in solitary confinement.
(Sure I’ll testify to the truth about what I saw and experienced in solitary confinement. The truth does not have an agenda – it is just the truth.)
The catalyst for all this is, of course, Adam Capay, an indigenous 24-year-old man horrifically kept in solitary confinement for almost five years. His story splashed across the news media for a few days, but has disappeared now that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne made some promises and moved Capay to a cell with a television.
Such is the fleeting attention of the public as new stories come and go.
17 Years in Solitary Confinement
Yet, as bad as Adam Capay’s case is – somewhere in Canada, if he is still alive, there is a prisoner who has spent over 17 years in ‘administrative segregation’.
This is not the Canada that I believe in. WE, you and I, need to make some changes happen.