March 30, 2023

La Ronge Northerner

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Leclerc women’s prison targeted by legal action

Leclerc Women’s Prison in Laval was targeted by a class action lawsuit. A former detainee denounces “cruel and unusual treatment” and “civilian wrongdoing that caused serious harm” inside the provincial detention center.

“Hundreds of women are subjected to institutional contempt every year,” argues the law firm Trudel Johnston Lesperance, which is bringing the case before the High Court. i’Joint action Stresses two points: “abuse” strip searches and lack of access to basic health care.

Former inmate Louis Henry is acting as a key figure in this class action. He has written a book in the past. Free us from Leclerc prison!She describes strip searches, handcuffs, insects, rodents, cold, lack of air conditioning, drinking water problems, lack of psychological care, overrepresentation of natives.

At the end of the line, she explains how common humiliating searches are. “Whenever you have to go out, to go to court or for a medical appointment, you’re searched when you leave the jail and when you return. Twice per trip. Sometimes these searches stem from the guards’ “mindset,” she says. Noting the traffic and “the whole floor. Let’s go through the fragment search”.

He points out that this practice is not common in other prisons. Lewis Henry was held at another prison, a federal prison, and says he was subjected to only one “semi-nude” search in 7 months. “And at the federal level, it’s a lot of serious cases! »

Lewis Henry says that this indifference weighs on the rest of society. “They get in there and lose everything. After 3 months, when they leave there, they find themselves on the street. »

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Leclerc Prison was once a federal prison for men, but was condemned by the government as outdated. Plaintiff relies on this fact to condemn this detention center. “In the beginning, why did you take the men out and condemn the prison, but to keep the women there? »

The request notes that more than 40% of the women incarcerated in Leclerc have defendant status, so they have not been punished.

The class action targets all women detained at the Leclerc Detention Center since September 6, 2019. Clara Poissant-Lespérance, a lawyer representing the prisoners in the case, estimated that “a few thousand” women were included in the request. They can contact his office to hear and share their story.

This request for collective action seeks financial compensation from the government for inmates and ex-prisoners at Leclerc prison. “It’s not about closing prisons, it’s about respecting fundamental rights,” insists Me Poissant-Lesperance. “We want the violations to stop […] And it is demanded that they get a gender-appropriate prison regime”.

A judge is expected to hear the class action later this year.

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