Immigration Detention and the Problem of Time: Lessons from Solitary Confinement

(2018) 4(4) International Journal of Migration and Border Studies 326-344

19 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2018 Last revised: 24 Jun 2020

See all articles by Efrat Arbel

Efrat Arbel

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law; Harvard University - Law School - Alumni; University of Oxford - Border Criminologies

Ian C. Davis

Independent

Date Written: December 12, 2018

Abstract

In 2016, the Canadian government launched an initiative to reform immigration detention, with the goal of creating a just and humane detention regime. In this paper, we argue that to achieve its stated goals, this initiative must address a core problem in the law of detention: the problem of time. This problem flows, in part, from there being no clear time limits on detention, and in part, from there being no clear standards for achieving release from detention. For insights into this problem, we turn to recent developments in the law of solitary confinement, which is similarly beset by the problem of time. Learning from solitary confinement, we argue that clear statutory time limits and meaningful independent oversight are necessary to ensure the just and humane regulation of detention. In their absence, the government’s reforms may amount to window-dressing: detention will continue to be vulnerable to misapplication and misuse, and to destroy and dehumanise those in its care.

Keywords: immigration detention; migration law; prison law; solitary confinement; time; human rights; Canada

Suggested Citation

Arbel, Efrat and Davis, Ian, Immigration Detention and the Problem of Time: Lessons from Solitary Confinement (December 12, 2018). (2018) 4(4) International Journal of Migration and Border Studies 326-344, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3300385

Efrat Arbel (Contact Author)

University of British Columbia (UBC), Faculty of Law ( email )

1822 East Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1
Canada

Harvard University - Law School - Alumni

1563 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

University of Oxford - Border Criminologies ( email )

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Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

Ian Davis

Independent ( email )

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