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Michael Jackson.

Toronto, University of Toronto Press, c1983.
330pp, paper, $35.00 (cloth), $12.50 (paper).
ISBN 0-8020-5620-2 (cloth), 0-8020-6514-7 (paper).

Grades 11 and up.
Reviewed by Donald M. Santor.

Volume 12 Number 2
1984 March

Few persons in Canada are as qualified to write about solitary confinement in Canadian prisons as Michael Jackson. Jackson combines the theoretical expertise of a law professor at the University of British Columbia where he teaches, with the practical experience of a defense lawyer arguing the case of prisoners' rights in the British Columbia Supreme Court. In addition, he negotiated the end of British Columbia's worst prison riot and served on the Citizen's Advisory Committee of the British Columbia Penitentiary. Jackson addresses the issue as an academic, as an advocate of prisoners' rights, and as a reformer of the penitentiary system.

Prisoners of Isolation outlines the historical evolution and use of solitary confinement in Canada's prisons in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Numerous examples illustrate the many issues he raises, especially the case he argued in 1976, McCann v. the Queen. Jackson documents the abortive attempts to reform and control the use of solitary confinement, and finally presents a model for reform. The book is scholarly, and sometimes quite technical, but through a careful combination of material he gives the subject a human face.

Jackson's primary purpose is to convince the reader that solitary confinement is "cruel and unusual punishment" and should not be used except under rigidly controlled conditions. To be sure, he presents a compelling argument. Teachers looking for material on solitary confinement, the prison system, and human rights would find Jackson's book quite useful; but it would be too difficult for general level students.

Donald M. Santor, London Board of Education, London, ON.
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