An HIV-positive Toronto man is suing the superjail where he was held in solitary confinement for a total of three months after other inmates objected to him being jailed with the general population. Jamie Simpson is seeking $200,000 for the alleged mistreatment, saying he endured “deplorable and filthy conditions” in solitary confinement, The Toronto Star reports.
Simpson was arrested in February 2014, charged with theft, breaking and entering, mischief, and breach of probation. Simpson spent three months at the Toronto West Detention Centre, and then transferred to the superjail, the Toronto South Detention Centre, where he was to remain until his trial. He told the Star that an inmate declared he and other men did not want him there because he was “sick.” Soon after, an officer told him he would be placed in solitary confinement overnight. His stay there ended up lasting about 75 consecutive nights.
Ontario law states that an inmate’s placement in solitary confinement must be reviewed by a superintendent every five days. Simpson says he consistently asked guards when he would be released, but he was given no solid answers. He was locked in his cell for up to 24 hours a day, he told the Star, and denied access to basic hygiene, such as showering. He attempted to transfer to a medical unit, but the state-of-the-art Etobicoke jail infirmary had been closed, which has led to multiple sick inmates being placed in solitary confinement instead.
After he was found guilty of the charges he faced, Simpson learned he would likely be sentenced to another 60 days at Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene, where he had previously served and had been abused and harassed by fellow inmates because of his HIV status. He wrote a request to the Toronto South superintendent asking not to be sent to Penetanguishene, but the letter went unanswered. He was told he would indeed be sent to Penetanguishene, and when he complained, he was taken to solitary confinement at Toronto South yet again.
Simpson said he was subjected to additional harsh conditions, including his mattress being taken away for day-long periods and not being able to shower for days at a time, leading to him to developing a staph infection. Eventually, his mother orchestrated a transfer to St. Joseph’s Health Centre, where his infection was treated. He spent a week in the hospital, and then requested to be sent to an infirmary at another institution. His request was denied, and he spent the remaining eight days of his sentence in solitary at Toronto South.