The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) has filed a lawsuit on behalf of an inmate eligible for day parole who was denied release due to the vaccine policy of his intended halfway house.
The JCCF announced Friday that they have partnered with criminal and constitutional lawyer Chip O’Connor to take legal action against the Attorney General of Canada and St. Leonard’s Society of Hamilton (SLSH) over their COVID-19 vaccine mandates that keep unvaccinated inmates in jail whom the courts have approved for day parole.
According to a JCCF press release, the parolee – N.M. – was granted day parole by an Ontario court on Feb. 10 but was returned to custody when the operator of his intended halfway house, SLSH, rescinded its offer upon learning of his vaccination status.
“Being forced to choose between freedom and bodily autonomy is not a choice,” said JCCF lawyer Sayeh Hassan. “This is coercion and has no place in a free and democratic society.”
According to the JCCF, N.M. has chosen not to be vaccinated due to a lack of long-term safety data and concerns over serious side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines. He is a 33-year-old man who is serving a sentence of two years, five months and 25 days.
Although the JCCF did not disclose his criminal charges, N.M. was supported in his bid for day parole by his parole officer and the Correctional Service of Canada.
Hassan has called the vaccine mandates an “unfair detainment in prejudice to an individual’s right to make medical decisions for themselves.”
“To coerce these individuals to be injected with a vaccine that has no long-term safety data and that has proven serious side effects including myocarditis, as a condition of enjoying their freedom, goes against principles of natural justice.”
As it stands, the Canadian government does not require inmates to be vaccinated even though federal prison facilities demand vaccine passports from visitors, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
The Correctional Service of Canada also required its employees to be vaccinated as of Oct. 29 2021, though inmates in federal prisons can choose to remain unvaccinated.
“Inmates are not required to get the COVID-19 vaccine and must consent to being vaccinated,” said Correctional Service spokesperson Marie-Pier Lécuyer. “We continue to emphasize the importance of getting vaccinated.”
SLSH could not be reached for comment in time for publication.