This case concerned the ability of incarcerated women to serve their sentences closer to home or near their communities. 

LEAF intervened before the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. 

Facts 

Carol Maureen Daniels, an Indigenous women from Saskatchewan, was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without eligibility for parole for ten years. Under the Criminal Code, Ms. Daniels’ sentence was required to be served in a penitentiary. At that time, the Kingston Prison for Women was the only penitentiary for women in Canada.  

Ms. Daniels filed an application so that she would not be required to serve her sentence in the Kingston Prison for Women. The trial judge declared that provisions under either the Criminal Code or thePenitentiary Act which would cause Ms. Daniels or other Indigenous women from the prairies to be incarcerated in the Kingston Prison for Women were unconstitutional. The judge also ordered that Ms. Daniels not serve any part of her sentence in the Kingston Prison for Women. The Attorney General appealed that decision to the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. 

LEAF’s arguments 

LEAF argued that the burdens and disadvantages imposed on Ms. Daniels and other Indigenous women from the prairie provinces were significant. These burdens impaired their liberty interests, subjected them to harsher conditions of confinement, disrupted their families, deprived them of their culture, and reduced their opportunities for rehabilitation.  

Concern with the interests and purposes of ss. 15 and 28 of the Charter justified the trial judge’s declaration, which protected a disadvantaged group vulnerable to systemic discrimination. However, the effect of the order – which saw Ms. Daniels made to serve her sentence in a maximum securitymen’s penitentiary in Saskatchewan – was unconstitutional. As a result, the trial judge needed to be given the opportunity to craft a constitutional interim option.  

Outcome 

The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal held that, because Ms. Daniels had not technically yet been ordered to serve her sentence in Kingston, her application had been made too early. The Court held that any Charter violations did not come from the Criminal Code or the Penitentiary Act, but rather from what the judge thought the Commissioner of Corrections would do by failing to provide Charter-compliant penitentiary facilities. As a result, Ms. Daniels should have brought an application before the Federal Court of Canada, and not the trial judge. 

LEAF is grateful to Marlys Edwardh and Janice Gingell, counsel in this case. 

Download LEAF’s factum here

Our records are imperfect, but we are doing our best to update them – if you were involved with LEAF on this case but your name is not reflected here, please email us at [email protected].