Youth detention is an often-overlooked component of the Canadian prison-industrial complex. Unless you work in the system or personally know a young person who has become “in conflict with the law,” the public generally has no idea how the system works or what goes on inside these facilities. To find out more, we spoke with Diane Irwin, Executive Director of the St. Lawrence Youth Association. The SLYA operates two juvenile detention facilities in the Kingston area, as well as managing programs in the community. We reached out to our contacts to speak with someone who has been incarcerated in one of these facilities, but so far have been unsuccessful. If you know someone who would like to share their story with us, we encourage you to get in touch with us.
As we were researching this issue to prepare for our interview, we came across a class action lawsuit that has been launched against the Province of Ontario and all third-party operators of youth detention facilities, including the St. Lawrence Youth Association. The lawsuit alleges that holding youth in solitary confinement is negligent, and breaches the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I spoke with Scott Robinson, an Associate Lawyer with Koskie Minsky in Toronto, about the case.
For the second half of our show, we shared an old but relevant interview from Stark Raven Radio in Vancouver with Annabel Webb of Justice For Girls, an organization that advocates for teenage girls who live in poverty. Annabel, speaking in December 2007, speaks about being barred from a youth detention facility in Burnaby after raising allegations of sexual abuse by medical doctors at the facility, and her critical reflections on the youth detention system in Vancouver.