Solitary confinement has no place in correctional system, former inmate and champion boxer says

As a boxer, Junior Moar was a national champion, but a lengthy bout in solitary confinement in Stony Mountain brought him to his knees, and left emotional scars he still carries to this day. 

“I wouldn’t wish that upon my worst enemy to be in a place like that,” Moar told Marjorie Dowhos, the host of CBC Radio’s Up To Speed, on Friday.

Now, Moar says he hopes a class-action lawsuit for inmates placed in solitary confinement will bring justice for others like him. 

On Friday, a judge ruled that provincial inmates who were placed in solitary can proceed with a class-action lawsuit.

The class action will cover any person in Manitoba who spent 15 or more consecutive days in solitary confinement at any point since December 1992.

Moar spent four years behind bars at Stony Mountain, a federal prison, after being charged with attempted murder. 

Of those four years, he spent 27 months in solitary confinement after getting in a fight. 

That meant spending nearly 24 hours a day in a cell by himself. The only opportunities he got to leave were to exercise once in the morning, to shower, and to use the phone for half an hour, three times a week. 

“They would ask me for exercise at seven in the morning. And so I’m just opening my eyes and, you know, do you want to go outside right now? And if you say no, then you’re in your cell for 24 hours a day,” he said. 

“You know, if you don’t shower that day, you’re in your cell all day.”

LISTEN | Junior Moar reflects on t ime in solitary confinement: 

Up To Speed7:53Former national champion boxer reflects on time spent in solitary confinement

As a boxer, he was a national champion, but the fight he faced from a lengthy bout in solitary confinement in Stony Mountain left him devastated. Junior Moar shared his story on Up to Speed. 7:53

During that time, he said he witnessed the horrific impact it had on some of his fellow inmates. 

“I’ve seen lot of stuff in there, I’ve seen guys write stuff with their own bodily fluids on the walls, going crazy … people talking to themselves, and all I wanted to do is just never be like that,” he said.

“It’s just not a place for a human being to be in there like that, not like a caged animal. An animal shouldn’t even be treated like that.”

Moar said he was lucky to have a good support system to help him through. He now lives in Vancouver with his wife and daughter and has opened up a boxing gym where he hopes to coach First Nations youth. 

But when he first got out, it was difficult to communicate with people. 

“I kind of kept saying, I’m sorry that I’m really quiet to my family because I  was used to spending a lot of time by myself,” he said. 

At first, he says he was just so happy to be out of solitary confinement he didn’t really process what had happened to him. But the traumatic experience later had massive consequences for his mental health. 

“I have a lot of problems sleeping, you know? I scream in my sleep,” he said. 

“A lot of these things are, you know, I pushed them under the carpet for a long time and I think after the last few years is starting to come back to me.”

After living through it, and grappling with the long-term effects, Moar says he doesn’t think solitary confinement is a place for anybody, regardless of the circumstances. 

“That’s just not the way to deal with rehabilitation. It’s no way of rehabilitating a human being.”

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