The leader of the Green Party of Quebec, Alex Tyrrell, spoke this Thursday in front of the Bordeaux prison in Montreal to address the situation of prison conditions, the rehabilitation of criminals and human rights. The Green Party of Quebec proposes an electoral platform that respects public security, but also respects the conditions of detention here in Quebec.
It is no secret that there are serious problems and poor living conditions in the province’s detention centers: violence, overcrowding, sexual assault, lack of access to education and mental health services, etc. Knowing that incarcerated people are 7 times more likely to commit suicide than the general population and that Quebec has more inmate suicides than Ontario, and this despite the fact that Quebec has 50% fewer prisoners than Ontario. Our prisons are in dire need of help to improve conditions in Quebec. The Green Party of Quebec recognizes the many problems and is calling for immediate changes in the province’s prisons.
Studies also show that people placed in solitary confinement in prisons quickly develop insomnia, confusion, despair or hallucinations. This practice is comparable to torture, according to the United Nations Special Rapporteur. He recommends a maximum limit of 15 consecutive days. The Green Party of Quebec will abolish the practice of long-term isolation and impose a maximum limit of 5 consecutive days in the case of at-risk inmates. These issues are not lost on correctional officers, who report daily that the Legault government is in desperate need of assistance to improve their working conditions, with no results or concrete action in response to their demands. These conditions are unacceptable and must be improved. Inmates are human beings and should be treated as such.
“Isolation has devastating impacts on the mental health of the people who are put there and does not really correct the problems. It is more of a punishment, than a tool to correct certain behaviours. We should really be doing everything we can to try to rehabilitate people, rather than punish them. I realize that speaking up for people in prison may not be the most popular thing for politicians, and that’s one of the reasons we have these subhuman conditions in our prisons. No one wants to talk about the human rights of people who have committed crimes, but it is important to talk about it in order to reduce crime. We need to treat everyone in society as a human being, whether they have committed a crime or not. I’m not saying that we should abolish all prisons and that no one should be incarcerated, but there are things we can do much better,” said Alex Tyrrell, party leader.
In the eyes of the Green Party of Quebec, rehabilitation requires humane and safe conditions of detention as well as access to education programs, psychotherapy and other activities that promote the reintegration of prisoners into society.
“We need to improve conditions in prisons here in Quebec and we need to ensure that when people go to prison, they can come out as more productive members of society and be rehabilitated. Right now, our prison system is based on punishment and revenge for crimes that have been committed. Of course, there are people who have committed violent and horrific crimes that are unforgivable, and who must face the consequences of their actions. That being said, everyone in Quebec has a vested interest in seeing that people are rehabilitated in prison, rather than getting out and falling back into crime and violence. One of the things we can do is continue to treat people as human beings and continue to invest in them as human beings so that they can come out of prison rehabilitated and ready to contribute in a more positive way to society.”