October 13, 2012
'Unhygienic' prison conditions leads to less time for prisoner
By QMI Agency
MONTREAL - Conditions in a Montreal jail are so bad that a judge reduced the sentence of a man convicted on a drug charge.
Judge Isabelle Rheault reduced the man's sentence from 53 months to 44 months after she called the city's provincially run Bordeaux jail "unhygienic."
"There rats and vermin (in the jail)," she said.
However, rats aren't the only problem at Bordeaux.
The judge noted that in section C of the jail, which houses suspects awaiting trial, street gang members are "very powerful" and drugs and alcohol are abundant. Moreover, under normal circumstances, inmates are confined to their cells for 14 hours a day, she said.
The jail's problems culminated in the summer when guards relocated prisoners in section C to the basement during the day due to renovations.
In one area of the basement, 70 inmates had to share one shower. In another area, there was no shower.
The head of section C, Ronald Dompierre, testified in court that renovations to the jail's sewer system caused the rat infestation. He said the problem was under control after the jail called exterminators. He said that although moving inmates to the jail's basement was inconvenient, he said inmates were given desserts and guards increased food rations.
Stephane Lemaire, president of the Quebec's union for correctional officers, said that to reduce a person's sentence due to poor detention conditions is "absolutely deplorable."
He said the allegations of the conditions in Bordeaux are "not false" and said they are attributed to prison overcrowding.
"Our mandate is to help and rehabilitate (inmates)," he said. "At Bordeaux, we can't do that."