Live in the fear of the COVID-19 behind bars

Vivre la crainte de la COVID-19 derrière les barreaux

28 April 2020 15: 07

Updated at 16h33


Live in the fear of the COVID-19 behind bars

Vivre la crainte de la COVID-19 derrière les barreaux

Isabelle Mathieu

The Sun


Michael Moran is afraid. He is washing his hands 20 times per day. And watch with anguish the correctional officers of the detention centre of Quebec (ÉDQ) approach him without mask and without gloves.

Moran, 68, is far from being a child in the choir. Since the 1970s, his road map is punctuated by a score of convictions for various crimes: breaking and entering, drug trafficking, fraud, possession of stolen credit cards, etc When he was 27 years old, he was sentenced to 10 years for manslaughter committed in the Montreal area.

The one who said to be a former longshoreman at the Port of Québec has been detained in the detention Facility of Quebec since the end of November. According to the lawsuit, he was taken to sell a hundred tablets of methamphetamine to an agent-dual of the police.

For Moran as for thousands of other defendants, the judicial procedures are set by the pandemic of COVID-19.

Last week, the sexagenarian has attempted to obtain a revision of its order of remand.

“Fear my health”

Moran testimony from a social conferencing the ÉDQ, monitored by officers of the correctional service in the face uncovered.

He coughs regularly. To a question of judge Jean-Louis Lemay of the Quebec Court, the inmate replied that he was a smoker until last year. In 2014, he had to undergo radiation treatment for cancerous cells in the lung. Four years later, the flu was bedridden for five weeks.

Michael Moran has no medical reports on file. The archives department of the hospital where he was treated does not include this type of application in the essential services, says the defence lawyer, Me Denis Richard.

At the time of writing these lines, an outbreak of coronavirus was reported to the Bordeaux jail, the largest prison facility run by the province; a dozen correctional officers and 13 inmates were declared positive. There is no case at the Quebec city prison, the second largest with 495 held on 665 spaces (data as of April 28, provided by the Department of public safety).

“But it would make the wilful blindness to consider that the EDQ is an oasis away from it all”, believe Me Richard.

Since the beginning of the health emergency, Michael Moran leaves almost no cell 14 feet by 7 feet that he shares with another inmate. He eats in his cell to avoid the promiscuity of the common rooms, ” he said.

It’s going to take his shower, it should wash out, as every prisoner, and phone to his wife. Before and after each call, it cleans up the handset with the mixture of mild bleach and water provided by the prison.

Each time a correctional officer comes to do the count in their area or button on door handles, Moran said ironing board upon its traces to disinfect.

“If the disease comes here, I really fear for my health, evidenced by Michael Moran. I accept the fact that I’m going to be convicted one day, but during the pandemic, I don’t want to be here.”

In addition to the deposit of bail money, he offers to go and stay 24 hours on 24 with his wife, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, for the duration of the procedures. In response to a question from the Crown prosecutor Pierre-Alexandre Bernard, the wife of Mr. Moran stated to be a nursing assistant part-time in a ltc facility.

Measures sufficient?

The director of professional services for the ÉDQ Sandy Lapointe has provided the court with the list of sanitary measures put in place by the ministry of public Security since march 20.

For example, all new inmates are placed in segregation for 14 days. Without exit, without a garment to spare, without a phone other than their lawyer.

This measure is not without fault, a testament to the court, Jessica Dionne, who was accused of drug trafficking. A new inmate was placed directly in the regular population. Because she was cross, Jessica Dionne has had to wait 14 days before being able to travel as planned to a house of therapy.

Jessica Dionne, has a fever on the 3 of April (to 39.7 degrees Celcius). She saw first a nurse and then said to have waited 9 hours before having other treatments, even if his fever was not dropping. It has had a negative test at the COVID-19.

Another inmate of the ÉDQ, Steve, Matt, says he is also worried about the little rift within the walls. “Many correctional officers agree that the situation is not really ideal to avoid that Covid-19 spill over into the QCD,” writes Mr. Matte in an affidavit filed at the court.

In such a context, why the correctional officers do-they are not medical gloves, request the lawyer of Michael Moran? “If the washing is done, there is no reason to wear gloves,” says Ms. Lapointe.

No protective masks had been distributed to the inmates. And why the correctional officers do not wear mask when they are in the vicinity of detainees? Inmates who are incarcerated for several months, as Mr. Moran, can not contaminate the correctional officers, said the director of the health care professionals. But the opposite is true, ” replied to Me, Richard.

A prison as the ÉDQ does not have the equipment to detect the COVID-19, ” says Ms. Lapointe. But the public health is present on site within an hour in case of doubt, she answers, and the correctional officers can be tested in priority in a clinical screening external.

Too big a risk

In November, a judge of the Court of Québec has estimated that a release of Moran during the procedures would be too great a danger to the safety of the public. The risk is always there, writes the judge, Jean-Louis Lemay, who rejected the request.

There is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Moran did not receive the treatment appropriate to his condition in prison, evaluates the judge.

“I have empathy for the fears and the fears of the accused, but I am afraid that the employment of his spouse and living with it will not allow him to appease them,” remarked the judge Lemay.

In this dark period, many people experience anxiety, adds the judge, citing, in addition to prisoners, the elderly are confined in a residential facility, the patients in a hospital, or even people in their own homes. “But the anxiety cannot take on all of the criteria that should guide such a decision, said the judge. Release all persons detained because of the COVID-19 without any other secondary evidence justifying déconsidérerait surely the administration of justice as much as if they kept detained persons arbitrarily.”

Le Soleil

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