The League of Rights and Freedoms (LDL) and lawyers, in particular those of the Association of Quebec Prison Law Lawyers, demand that certain categories of detainees or accused persons be released in provincial prisons and penitentiaries in Quebec, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 contamination.
Posted on March 19, 2020, 7:47 p.m.
The LDL and the lawyers aim in particular to:
– Persons serving a sentence for non-violent crime
– Those serving a intermittent sentence
– Those serving a sentence of less than six months or whose release is scheduled for less than six months
– A person under federal jurisdiction eligible for a speedy review procedure
– Prisoners over the age of 60
– Prisoners with a chronic or ill disease
– Pregnant women
– People awaiting trial because they have no money to pay their bail
“The virus could spread like a forest fire due to overcrowding, crampedness and the architectural configuration of the premises. The number of people infected will possibly be very high and the health care teams of these establishments are not equipped to deal with it, “said Lucie Lemonde, spokesperson for the League for Rights and Freedoms, in a press release. .
“At Montée Saint-François in Laval, there is a wing where the inmates are older. From the moment there is a first case, it will become an epidemic. It is believed that there are certain categories of people who could be sent home without harm to the population, “adds Me Sylvie Bordelais, whose Quebec Association of Prison Law Lawyers called out, by letter, Prime Ministers François Legault and Justin Trudeau, the provincial and federal ministers of Public Safety, Geneviève Guilbault and Ralph Goodale, and the head of public health in Quebec, Doctor Horacio Arruda.
“We can’t agree with that. We are there to protect the population. We cannot begin to open the doors as if they were windmills, “replied Mathieu Lavoie, president of the Union of peace officers in correctional services of Quebec.
18 suspected cases
On Thursday, the Quebec Department of Public Security indicated that 18 detainees or defendants in four of the 17 provincial prisons were placed in administrative segregation, because they met one of the three criteria: cough, fever or return from travel . But beware, these are suspected cases and not confirmed by screening tests.
Mr. Lavoie deplores the fact that prison nurses – who are also correctional officers – are still not authorized to carry out screening tests. He does not even know if the prisons are equipped to carry out these tests. He is asking the government that this can be done.
“To prevent the disease, prevent the spread and protect our members, the government must give us the tools,” said the union leader.
The criminalist Me Danièle Roy spoke with three clients currently detained at the Montreal Detention Facility (Bordeaux) and the Rivière-des-Prairies prison on Thursday. She felt a lot of concern among them.
“They tell me that the guards tell them to wash their hands more often, but they don’t have soap. They want to clean their cell with bleach, but they don’t have access to the products. The guards do not protect themselves. Detainees and guards arrive at all times from outside. They can put suspect cases in isolation, but how much room do they have? Asked the lawyer.
Thursday, at the municipal court of Montreal, the presence in a courtroom of an inmate suspected of having contracted the coronavirus caused quite a stir.
“It would allay the anxiety that drug tests could be done in prisons,” concludes Mathieu Lavoie.
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