“The women are sent to a penitentiary that is completely scrap”, indignant Lucie Lemonde, spokesman of the League of Rights and Freedoms, on QUB radio.
The Leclerc women’s prison in Laval has been in the spotlight since this fall, since women inmates have testified to poor prison conditions in which they live.
The Action and Monitoring Coalition on the Incarceration of Women in Quebec (CASIFQ) called on the UN to act last December and it was requested that the Ombudsman open an investigation.
“The heating is inadequate, assured Ms. Lemonde. Women sleep with their winter coat. The dilapidation of the place has taken over. There are infestations of mice and bed bugs. The water is brownish and the guards do not drink it themselves. ”
The penitentiary, which was first for men, was shut down by the federal government in 2012. The guards there are “guards who were used to working with men,” Lemonde said. The strip searches are multiple and the insults fuse on the part of the staff, according to her.
“The prison is not a Hilton, but we are talking about almost a humanitarian crisis,” she said. But for the Quebec government, it’s not a budget priority. ”
The situation is all the more problematic because the sentences that are served there are related to minor offenses. “The average sentence is two months. These are small crimes, she added. Nearly 80% of them are both victims and criminals, “she added.
The president of the Progressive Prisoner Advocates Association, Mélanie Martel, is also shocked by the situation. Questioned also by the Effrontées on QUB radio, she recalled that the detainees are people “who have rights like all the others.”
She especially recalled that these women are serving short sentences (less than two years) and that subsequently they will become “our neighbors”. “We do not want them to come out with a bitter taste against the system,” she said.
As a defender of day-to-day prisoners, she knows the context of their detention and finds that the lack of services is problematic. “Having access to a doctor, psychiatrist or psychologist is almost impossible,” she said, adding that many inmates at Leclerc Penitentiary have mental health problems that no one is trying to solve.