COPCAT Shorts: Québec Ombudsperson Prisons Focus

Conditions of detention in Québec’s provincial prisons have once again come under close scrutiny in the Annual Report 2017-2018 of the Québec Ombudsperson. During this period nearly 5000 complaints concerning prisons were processed by the institution.

Quebec Ombudsperson

Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret presented her report to the National Assembly on 29 November 2018, highlighting various concerns in this respect. These included the following (taken from the report):

  • Due to prison overcrowding, some correctional facilities end up putting as many as three detainees in cells meant to hold one inmate. The situation persists, notably because of a lack of planning regarding the operations surrounding the opening of new facilities.
  • Even though solitary confinement (isolation in a cell for 22 hours or more a day) must be an exception and carried out according to clear-cut guidelines, it may last for periods of up to several weeks if not months.
  • In a report released in March 2018, the Québec Ombudsperson shed light on the consequences of the increase in intermittent sentences in correctional facilities.
  • The measures introduced to curb drone activity over correctional facilities must not infringe on detainees’ residual rights.
  • Detainees cannot exercise their right to vote in municipal and school elections. The Québec Ombudsperson made recommendations aimed at changing this situation.
  • The Québec Ombudsperson’s recommendations concerning detention conditions, the administration of justice and crime prevention in Nunavik are slow to be implemented.

The Québec Ombudsperson’s Annual Report 2017-2018 can be downloaded in full in English.