Unacceptable detention conditions | Protecteur du Citoyen
November 29, 2018

Unacceptable detention conditions

Québec City, November 29, 2018 – In her 2017-2018 Annual Report, tabled at the National Assembly today, the Ombudsperson is critical that some Québec correctional facilities cram as many as three people into a cell meant for one detainee.

"I’m speaking out against this overcrowding that jeopardizes detainees’ safety and increases the risk of violence," said Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret, who also acts as Québec’s correctional ombudsman. 

Other findings include:

  • Solitary confinement: Solitary confinement sometimes occurs without regard for the person’s mental health, without a predetermined time limit, and for periods of more than 15 days. This violates international detention standards. The Québec Ombudsman asked the Ministère de la Sécurité publique to adopt a Québec-wide policy regarding this practice.
  • Management of intermittent sentences: Intermittent sentences (served mostly on weekends) have a major impact on detention conditions: sporadic increases in the prison population; cramming detainees into places that are not equipped for them; more transfers from one facility to another; and more control procedures and searches. The Québec Ombudsman made recommendations to the Ministère de la Sécurité publique aimed at improving management of this phenomenon. The Department agreed to certain recommendations and is analyzing the remaining ones.
  • Detention conditions in Nunavik: In 2016, a special report by the Québec Ombudsman concluded that detention conditions in Nunavik were deplorable. More than half of its recommendations produced prompt corrections. However, improvements that address the state of dilapidation of facilities and excessive cell occupancy rates at the Puvirnituq police station are slow going.
  • Exercising the right to vote in municipal and school elections: Under the law, detainees have the right to vote in municipal and school elections, but, in fact, they cannot do so because there are no special provisions for it, such as voting by correspondence. The Québec Ombudsman recommends legislative amendments that will change the situation.

The three main grounds for substantiated complaints were wait times, infringement of rights, and shortcomings in detainees’ living environment. The Québec Ombudsman intervened regarding the 17 correctional facilities under the purview of the Ministère de la Sécurité publique. Because of the Québec Ombudsman’s recommendations, problems of complainants’ and of many other people in similar situations were solved.

See the highlights at rapportannuel.protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca.

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Press relations: 
Tania-Kim Milot 
Phone: (418) 646-7143 / Cell: (418) 925-7994
Email : tania-kim.milot@protecteurducitoyen.qc.ca