COPCAT Shorts – Québec Ombudsperson’s Prison Focus 2018-2019

Conditions of detention in Québec’s provincial prisons have once again formed a core focus of the Québec Ombudsperson’s Annual Report 2018-2019, launched this past week.

During the period under review over 5600 complaints concerning prisons were processed by the institution, representing a sizeable increase over the previous year.

According to the Annual Report 2018-2019, the three most common grounds for complaint related to lengthy wait times, a failure of the authorities to respect the rights of persons deprived of their liberty, and the material conditions of detention. Once again, the institution focused on the extensive and prolonged use of solitary confinement.

A summary of the key concerns included the following:

  • The rules governing the use of physical restraints (handcuffs and chains) in correctional facilities go back more than 20 years. They must be updated so that there is better oversight of this practice in keeping with detainees’ rights.
  • Too often, correctional facilities resort to solitary confinement for extended periods and without any specific instructions to follow. The Québec Ombudsperson recommended that solitary confinement be limited to 15 days pending a new provincial instruction in this regard.
  • During its visits, the Québec Ombudsperson witnessed the dilapidated conditions at Leclerc de Laval and Baie-Comeau correctional facilities.
  • In the past three years, a large number of complaints from detainees to the Québec Ombudsperson have concerned health services in correctional facilities.

A more in-depth account of these concerns is available in the related chapter of the Annual Report.

Read the Québec Ombudsperson’s Annual Report 2018-2019. Read the report in French.

Consult the overview of prison-related concerns. Consult the French version.

Read the Québec Ombudsperson’s Annual Report 2017-2018. A French version is also available.

Find out who is the Québec Ombudsperson, including in French.

Could Canada’s many ombuds-type institutions play a role in the context of the OPCAT? Read on.