2020-2021 Annual Report

  • September 30, 2021
2020-2021 Annual Report

Correctional services

  • September 30, 2021
  • 4 620 requests processed
  • Substantiated complaints: 37.4%
  • Intervention with 18 correctional facilities within the jurisdiction of the Ministère de la Sécurité publique

The three main grounds for substantiated complaints:

  1. Failure to respect rights: 28.2 %
  2. Lengthy wait times: 26.1 %
  3. Living environment: 16.0 %

Highlights

Solitary confinement in correctional facilities 

  • Because of COVID-19, anyone newly admitted to a correctional facility was placed in quarantine (24 hours out of 24 for 14 days). The result for detainees was cramped cells and no showers, daily yardtime, contact with family or changes of clothing. As the Québec Ombudsman saw it, such measures could have a devastating effect on detainees' mental health.

Access to personal belongings 

  • On arrival at a correctional facility, detainees were quarantined for 14 days because of COVID-19. At first they did not have access to their personal belongings, especially to their clothing. Under the procedure implemented during the pandemic because of the risk of contagion, there was a nine-day waiting period. Added to this was another 48 hours for the usual searches. As a result, detainees wore the same clothes for 11 days, could not have a shower, and were not given normal changes of clothing.

Reducing detention populations

  • Wanting to reduce the detention population during the pandemic in a bid to limit the risk of contagion, the Department planned to suspend intermittent sentences (weekend sentences) and to temporarily release detainees vulnerable to COVID-19. These measures were slow to materialize and were not highly successful in terms of the goal.

Transfer of healthcare responsibilities 

  • During the pandemic, problems in the health services sections of the correctional facilities in Montréal and Québec City were magnified, leading, in particular, to gaps in the distribution of medication. These are the only locations where the transfer of responsibility for these services from the Ministère de la Sécurité publique to the Ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux has not occurred, even though it is now the case everywhere else in Québec.

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