Thursday, March 4

COVID-19 in Bordeaux | Tensions between inmates and correctional officers

The health measures put in place to counter the second wave of COVID-19 at the Montreal Detention Center, which hits much harder than the first, were the cause of tensions between correctional officers and inmates during the day. Wednesday.

Daniel RenaudDaniel Renaud

Detainees and defendants from Sector C, one of the most populous in Bordeaux, are said to have intentionally blocked the toilet in their cell, causing water to overflow, knocking on doors, shouting and throwing excrement and urine towards correctional officers.

Members of the emergency team even had to intervene to calm three inmates who allegedly assigned correctional officers when the cell doors opened for the distribution of meals.

According to the president of the Union of peace officers in correctional services of Quebec, Mathieu Lavoie, the inmates would have protested against the fact that the authorities wanted to force them to undergo a screening test for COVID-19.

The events took place around the dinner hour. The detainees in this sector – who are currently around 90 for a capacity of 180 – have been confined for several days. They believed they could be released from their cells on Wednesday, but prison officials instead told them it would not be okay until the start of next week, and asked them to be tested.

At the request of Public Health, as soon as an inmate is declared positive in a sector, all incarcerated persons there are confined for 14 days, as a preventive measure. Detainees therefore refuse to be tested for fear of being assigned to their cells for two weeks.

“These incidents clearly demonstrate that we need to step up measures in prisons to reduce outbreaks. Inmates must be made to wear masks in common areas and the number of people incarcerated in them should be reduced. Things are not going well in Bordeaux. The second wave hits twice as hard as the first. Correctional officers are at their wit’s end. Are there any variants of the coronavirus in the walls? We do not know. But when we know that COVID-19 is spreading twice as fast in prison than outside, it’s worrying, ”says Mathieu Lavoie.

The latter also claims that the N-95 masks, which employees have received in recent days, only do 50% of the time, as in some health establishments.

129 infected prisoners

The number of people infected in Bordeaux remained stable for a few days last week but has increased again in recent days.

There are currently 129 people incarcerated and 18 correctional officers infected. More than 300 inmates – almost half of the current prison population – are confined to their cells, and around 40 correctional officers have been removed and sent home, as a preventive measure.

During the peak of the first wave of the pandemic that began in March 2020, 93 inmates had contracted COVID-19 in Bordeaux.

The League of Rights and Freedoms issued a statement Thursday morning deploring the conditions of the detainees.

“We would have thought that the Legault government, the Ministry of Public Security, Public Health and the management of detention centers would have learned from the mistakes made during the first wave. We find that this does not appear to be the case. Currently, the conditions of detention, the prolonged isolation and the insufficiency of sanitary protections undermine the rights of imprisoned persons ”, writes his spokesperson, Lucie Lemonde who underlines that for days, even weeks, detainees have been deprived shower, visit and occupancy.

The League, which has already pleaded for a reduction in prison populations, asks the government “to act with real transparency in its communications with prisoners, their families and the population, and to ensure compliance with health measures and of the rights of those affected ”.

The organization notes that in Bordeaux and at the Rivière-des-Prairies Establishment, court hearings are carried out from the changing rooms or showers.

Last week, Sylvain Villemaire, who “had an eight-year-old girl delivered” from Africa to become his sex slave, appeared from his cell in Bordeaux when he was found guilty of human trafficking. underage and distribution of child pornography.

The measures related to COVID-19 in Bordeaux have an impact on legal proceedings.

Thursday morning, a judge of the Court of Quebec would have expressed her discontent because they would have refused to bring in the courtroom a detainee from Bordeaux who was to testify in a case, and who is imprisoned in a sector in confinement.

To reach Daniel Renaud, dial (514) 285-7000, extension 4918, write to [email protected] or write to the postal address of La Presse.

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