Simon Says

Bringing clarity to the inner workings of our legal system

Can provincial prisoners be required to complete substance testing?

Prisoners in provincial correctional facilities may receive a demand to complete substance testing (to test for evidence of alcohol or other substances). However, demands can only be made in certain circumstances:

  1. If the director or superintendent of the provincial correctional facility has authorized the demand and there are reasonable grounds to suspect i) the prisoner has consumed or used alcohol or another substance, and ii) a test is necessary to confirm a substance has been used or consumed;
  2. If the demand is part of a prescribed random testing program, conducted without individualized grounds and on a periodic basis;
  3. If substance testing is a prescribed requirement for participation in i) a program or activity involving contact with the community, or ii) a substance abuse program.

Moreover, provincial prisoners on temporary absences or parole, as well as individuals on probation or those serving a conditional sentence may also receive a substance test demand. A demand can only be made if the person has a condition on their parole, temporary absence, probation, or conditional sentence to abstain from the consumption or use of alcohol or other substances and to submit to testing to determine the presence of alcohol or other substances. A demand can be made on someone with such a condition i) if there are reasonable grounds to suspect the person has breached the condition to abstain from alcohol or other substances or ii) at regular intervals to monitor compliance with the condition.

An incarcerated person who refuses substance testing risks an institutional charge, which can carry a range of sanctions. Someone on a temporary absence or parole who refuses to comply with the condition may risk having their temporary absence or parole revoked. The possible consequences for someone on a conditional sentence or probation who refuses substance testing can be very steep, including a cancellation of the conditional sentence order (requiring the person to serve their sentence in jail) or a criminal charge for breach of probation.

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