Toronto ex-cop Donald Best served entire prison sentence in “brutal” solitary confinement

Solitary Confinement prison cell

Solitary Confinement prison cell: What you see is larger, but very similar to the spartan reality of Donald Best’s cell.

A new editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal declaring solitary confinement as “cruel and unusual punishment” is no surprise to former Toronto Police Sergeant (and former prisoner) Donald Best, who describes his time in solitary confinement as “brutal”.

The Canadian Medical Association editorial says:

“Is this acceptable practice or is this torture?

Solitary confinement, defined as physical isolation for 22 to 24 hours per day and termed “administrative segregation” in federal prisons, has substantial health effects. These effects may develop within a few days and increase the longer segregation lasts.

Anxiety, depression and anger commonly occur. Isolated prisoners have difficulty separating reality from their own thoughts, which may lead to confused thought processes, perceptual distortions, paranoia and psychosis.

In addition to the worsening of pre-existing medical conditions, offenders may experience physical effects, such as lethargy, insomnia, palpitations and anorexia.”

From the Canadian Medical Association Journal editorial, November 17, 2014: Cruel and usual punishment: solitary confinement in Canadian prisons  (website article)

Alternative: Download the CMAJ editorial as a PDF 74kb

National Post: Solitary confinement is ‘cruel and usual punishment’

Herald: Prison suicide report blasts Corrections Canada

Mr. Best does not easily speak of his time in ‘the hole’. He says that he witnessed terrible events in the ‘Administrative Segregation Unit’ as solitary is euphemistically named by prison authorities. Best saw things he had never before seen or even imagined; despite his 35+ years in public and private law enforcement and as a deep-cover investigator against organized crime. He saw prisoners eating their own faeces and worse.

The Canadian Medical Association editorial says that solitary confinement “has substantial health effects” and worsens pre-existing medical conditions. Best knows this to be true from firsthand experience.   

Solitary Confinement Canada Prisons SAN

Donald Best was fed through a slot in the door

Solitary Confinement door with cover on window and slot for feeding.

Solitary Confinement door with sliding cover on window and slot for feeding. Identical to the door on Donald Best’s cell.

According to evidence filed in Ontario courts, Donald Best was convicted in January 2010 of ‘contempt of court’ in a civil case costs hearing ‘in absentia’: while he was in Asia and had no knowledge of the private prosecution against him. Best and others have filed evidence, including secretly made (but legal) voice recordings, that allegedly proves he was convicted upon the false and fabricated evidence of several lawyers and a rogue Ontario Provincial Police senior officer that the Toronto lawyers illegally hired ‘on the side’.

As always, DonaldBest.CA reminds our readers that as of the publication date none of the allegations has yet been decided in an Ontario court of law, and to our knowledge none of the defendants has filed a Statement of Defence.

Until his release from prison by special order of an Ontario Superior Court judge, Best served a total of 63 days of a 3 month sentence in solitary confinement at Lindsay’s Central East Correctional Centre. In a sworn affidavit filed with the Ontario Court of Appeal, Best explained that prison authorities told him that they had nowhere else available to protect a former police officer from other prisoners.

“On May 3, 2013 I was taken into custody to serve a 3-month sentence, and I immediately learned that it is impossible for the courthouse security and jail staff to keep secret that a prisoner is a former police officer. I was transported to Lindsay jail (Central East Correctional Centre ‘CECC’) in a separate compartment of an OPP prisoner transport truck, but could hear shouts of “Hey cop! You’ll be sorry”, “You’re a f***ing dead man” and other similar threatening comments from my fellow prisoners in the other compartments.

Upon arriving at the jail, I found that other prisoners already there were aware of the imminent arrival of a former police officer, before I even arrived. Upon my arrival and at other times during my incarceration, prisoners pointed, waved and made various facial and hand gestures, including gestures to indicate that I would be beaten, stabbed, have my throat slit, raped or forced to provide oral sex.”

Excerpts from March 24, 2014 sworn affidavit of Donald Best (PFD 645kb)

Prisoners in solitary confinement are not allowed to keep diaries. The solitary confinement cells are regularly searched by guards who systematically destroy any notes, diaries or records.

Nonetheless, Donald Best managed to keep notes and records, which he smuggled out of prison in a manner that he hesitates to reveal at present.

Some of the smuggled notes were attached as exhibits to Best’s March 24, 2014, and corroborate what Best says about his 63 days in solitary confinement.

20130504 Best Prison Medicine Request (PDF 861kb)

20130508 Best Prison Heart Letter (PDF 1.1mb)

The damage done by solitary confinement is a growing issue as shown by the recent CMAJ editorial and other news stories.

Just try to imagine what solitary confinement must be like for a prisoner who has been unjustly convicted upon provably false evidence.

The Statement of Claim in Donald Best vs Gerald Ranking et al can be found here: 20140718 Best v Ranking Statement of Claim

Photo Credits

Slot in the door: London CTV News 

Solitary Confinement Door and Jail Cell: London Free Press / QMI Agency