Justice Centre launches action to release parolee kept in jail due to vaccine status

PERTH:  The Justice Centre has filed a court action on behalf of an inmate eligible for parole who has been denied his freedom purely on account of his vaccine status. The Justice Centre has partnered with criminal and constitutional lawyer Fergus J. (Chip) O’Connor to launch legal action in the Ontario Superior Court against the Attorney General of Canada and Saint Leonard’s Society of Hamilton, a halfway house, in regard to Covid vaccine mandates that continue to keep inmates in jail who have been approved for day parole.

The Justice Centre represents N.M., a 33-year-old male who is currently serving a sentence of two years, five months and 25 days. He was supported by his parole officer and Correctional Service of Canada as eligible for day parole, meaning he would be released into the custody of a community based residential facility (also known as a halfway house). He was accepted by Saint Leonard’s Society of Hamilton (SLSH) to reside at one of their halfway houses. However, Saint Leonard’s Society, rescinded its offer to accept N.M. due to his vaccination status.  Unless we can convince the Court to strike down this vaccine mandate, he may well continue to languish in prison for a long time.

On February 10, 2022, N.M. had his parole hearing, and he was granted day parole. Because the halfway house, Saint Leonard’s Society, rescinded its offer to accept N.M. due to his vaccination status, he continues to languish in prison.

N.M. has declined the vaccine due to its lack of long-term safety data as well as the demonstrated risk of the serious side effect of myocarditis for young men. Vaccine manufacturers and medical officials have stated publicly that the available Covid vaccines do not stop the infection or transmission of Covid.

The Justice Centre is concerned about people being jailed when they are legally eligible to reside in halfway houses. These people must receive a medical treatment under duress or coercion, or stay in jail. There is no free choice under these circumstances,” states Sayeh Hassan, staff lawyer with the Justice Centre.

“Inmates are some of the most vulnerable individuals in our society, and already have minimal control over their bodies and their surroundings. They are routinely subjected to strip searches and cell searches, and must follow orders at all times. 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,” adds Ms. Hassan.

“Being forced to choose between freedom and bodily autonomy is not a choice. This is coercion and has no place in a free and democratic society. This is unfair detainment in prejudice to an individual’s right to make medical decisions for themselves,” concludes Ms. Hassan.