Carceral Conditions Are Deteriorating at Leclerc Prison

December 5th, 2018
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A Coalition Calls for Help from the UN and the Quebec Ombudsperson

Faced with deteriorating carceral conditions for women at Leclerc Prison and disregard from authorities, the Coalition d’action et de surveillance sur l’incarcération des femmes au Québec (CASIFQ) informed the UN of the issues by sending its observations to the Committee Against Torture, which is currently examining Canada's periodic report as regards the Convention Against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Coalition also met with the Quebec Ombudsperson to ask her to carry out an urgent inquiry into the carceral conditions at Leclerc.

"Faced with such wide-spread problems and the gravity of the human rights violations of women detained at Leclerc, Quebec must intervene immediately. We need to get these women out of there immediately," said Geneviève Dauphin-Johnson, spokesperson for the CASIFQ.

Over the past few weeks, multiple statements on the deplorable conditions found at Leclerc were brought to the CASIFQ's attention. There are multiple mice and bedbug infestations. Women are forced to sleep with their winter coats due to the defective heating system and cold air coming in from gaps in the windows. There are major issues with access to potable water: women are told to let the water run for 10 minutes before drinking, while staff members simply do not drink it. The plumbing and ventilation systems are faulty. Toilets regularly overflow.

Detainees are frequently subjected to intrusive and humiliating strip-searches. Women are kept in their cells for long periods during the weekend due to short-staffing. For this reason, many activities are cancelled at the last minute. For example, visits for Christmas and Mother's Day were cancelled on the day of. Access to health care and medication is also problematic.

"Women detained at Leclerc experience degrading and inhuman treatment. Their fundamental rights, guaranteed by the Canadian and Quebec charters, are tossed aside and are not respected according to the international agreements on the treatment of incarcerated people made by our governments," stated Lucie Lemonde, spokesperson for the Ligue des droits et libertés.

Quebec must act immediately. "Leclerc, a former men's prison, was closed by the Harper government in 2012 due to its decrepit conditions. How could it be considered adequate today for the detention of women? I just don't understand," lamented Louise Henry, recently detained at Leclerc.

Keeping women in this place is nonsensical, irresponsible and certainly does nothing to improve their chances of reintegration into society. "We’re calling for an immediate intervention to get women out of this place, as it is totally unsuitable on a human, architectural and penological front. Globally speaking, we need to collectively reflect on alternatives to the incarceration of women." concluded Geneviève Dauphin-Johnson, from the CASIFQ.

Members of the Coalition d’action et de surveillance sur l’incarcération des femmes au Québec: the Centre des femmes de Laval, the Fédération des femmes du Québec (FFQ), the Ligue des droits et libertés and Stella, l’amie de Maimie.

Source (in French): CASIFQ, 05.12.2018

> Watch the documentary from the Centre des femmes de Laval (in French): Tanguay, Leclerc et après? #repensonslaprison (16 minutes).

Related pages (in French):
La prison Leclerc:  une mesure transitoire de près d’une décennie, CASIQF, 07.03.2019
La prison Leclerc pour femmes: un pénitencier complètement scrap, QUB radio, 05.02.2019
Québec solidaire met au défi la ministre Guilbault de visiter la prison Leclerc, Radio-Canada, 31.01.2019
La Cour supérieure propose une procédure accélérée, Métro, 31.01.2019
Pas d'injonction pour améliorer les conditions de détention à la prison Leclerc, Radio-Canada, 31.01.2019
Conditions de détention à Leclerc:  «Unité 9, c’est le paradis!», Le 15-18, 16.01.2019
Les détenus:  trou noir de nos préoccupations sociales, Josée Boileau au 15-18, 12.12.2018
La violence derrière les barreaux, La Presse, 06.12.2018
Mauvaises conditions de détention des femmes à la prison Leclerc, Le Devoir, 05.12.2018