(OTTAWA) The federal government has pledged to change prison rules to limit the use of bare cells and improve the process of tracing and seizing contraband in correctional facilities.

The bare cells, in which there is no access to running water, are used to closely monitor, under intense lighting, the detainees while waiting for the expulsion of prohibited items.

The proposed regulations would require officials to use body-scanning detector technology more often to identify contraband and set a 72-hour maximum for dry cell detention, with special permission required for any extensions.

Correctional Investigator Ivan Zinger said the practice, in which people are sometimes held for days in what is essentially solitary confinement, is the most degrading practice in federal corrections.

The office of Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino issued a ministerial directive last year requiring the Correctional Service of Canada to provide a written justification when inmates are held in these controversial cells for more than two days.

Mr. Mendicino’s firm also banned the practice for women suspected of carrying contraband in their vaginas, in response to a 2021 Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling that found the practice illegal.