by Frank Larue
Adam Capay is from Lac Seul First Nation’s. While he was serving time in a Thunder Bay District jail, he got into an altercation with another inmate and killed him. This was four-years ago, and he has been in solitary confinement ever since.
Thunder Bay jail is known for its terrible living conditions, even for inmates waiting for trail. “There’s often three people to a cell. There’s only two beds, meaning… two people get beds, and one person sleeps on the floor,” informs David Klesman, a Thunder Bay criminal defense lawyer, during a CBC interview.
Capay, now 24-years old, has spent the last four-years in a basement cell that is sheathed with plexi-glass and fully lit 24/7. The surprising thing is Capay is not even a convicted criminal; he has been waiting all this time for his trial. A ruling is set in place by the Supreme Court of Canada which nullifies any trial that has not happened within 30-months of the arrest. Capay has remained in solitary confinement for 52-months. Where was the justice system that allowed this to happen?
Solitary confinement for more than 15-days is considered torture by the United Nations standards. Capay’s situation did not seem right to Renu Mandhane, Ontario’s human rights commissioner. It was not until Mandhane visited Capay himself that the media was alerted of the injustice.
“This individual has been moved from their cell,” Corrections Minister David Orazietti told the media. “They are in a different location, with appropriate lighting and access to day rooms. They can spend time out of their cell for showers, phone calls, and to access T.V. It is my understanding, from speaking to officials, that the inmate is satisfied with the conditions they are presently in.” How could Capay be unsatisfied with this after 4-years of solitary confinement?
There is still no mention regarding Capay’ s trial, nor the fact that it should be annulled. There was also no apology for the sadistic way Capay was treated. First Nation’s Drum is stunned by this. There ought to have been an investigation on the warden and jail officials. Only then would there have been evidence brought to the surface regarding cases of excessive solitary confinement.
Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day said the Thunder Bay District jails treatment of Capay is a perfect example of how unjust the Ontario Correctional system is to Indigenous people. “It’s a very broken and unbalanced system. Clearly the situation [of] Adam… being treated like an animal is going to have an impact on him physically and psychologically.” Capay had memory and speech problems, which she attributed to the cruel treatment he had received in jail.
There have been many requests for the Thunder Bay District jail to be replaced. The building is a hundred years old, and it is in dire need of restoration. The requests have come from inquest juries, jail guards, and opposition politicians. Unfortunately, the provincial and federal government have overlooked all of these demands. Where is our Prime Minister? He’s made so many promises, but when there is an emergency he is never around. In this case, it is the Ontario Government and their very aloof Premier that should shoulder much of the blame. They believe that 15-days in solitary is not torture. What is more is that the Deputy Minister had received no less than 50 reports on Capay’s condition and still chose to do nothing.
“What I find unacceptable are the specific conditions under which Mr. Capay was being held,” David Orazietti told the media. “When I hear about 24-hour lighting issues, those types of things obviously cause me concern. I’ve already asked the ministry to confirm for me that no one in a segregation has those types of circumstances… and they be resolved immediately.”
The Corrections Minister is saying all the right things after the fact. Is he sincere? Perhaps, but he still garners doubts. If the Ontario Premier and Mr. Orazietti initiate an investigation into Capay’s treatment, there could be a potential trial. In having this happen, officials at the Thunder Bay District jail will receive more than a slap-on-the-wrist, and will have to face criminal charges. This would deter any other jail officials in Ontario to take advantage of the same liberties as those in the Thunder Bay District jail did with Capay.