In Canada, thousands of migrants are detained at any time, with up to one third of detainees in maximum and medium-security prisons despite most never having been charged with a crime. The recent Canada v. Chhina Supreme Court ruling allows detained migrants to access the remedy of habeas corpus so that, in appropriate cases, they can challenge the legality and conditions of their detention before a judge. However, critics like migration expert Sharry Aiken say it fails to address the underlying issues of how Canada sets the grounds for detention and the basis for release.

Migrant detention is actually a relatively new phenomenon in North America. For the participants of the recent De-Carceral Futures conference at the Queen’s School of Law, it’s something we can and must do away with. We attended the conference to interview some of the scholars and activists who are working toward a world in which neither migrants nor citizens are incarcerated.

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Photo: Jonathan Simon gives a keynote presentation at De-Carceral Futures. By Julia Bugiel.


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