“Save us from the prison of Leclerc!”, Picture of a descent into hell

“No woman can live long in this hell without going crazy,” Louise Henry wrote Save us from the prison of Leclerc!. The former prisoner’s book may be titled, quite simply, save us from prison. Because as Lucie Lemonde, professor of legal sciences, points out, in the introduction to this newly published book, “it’s time to see prison for what it is, that is, say anything but a solution “.

Leclerc prison was originally a prison for men serving long sentences. Located in Laval, it was closed by the federal government due to obsolescence. However, the state of Quebec decided to use it to incarcerate women serving short sentences. “The Conseil du trésor du Québec plans to save $ 7.6 million by relocating women from [la prison] Tanguay sa Leclerc, ”Louise Henry recalled.

In an interview with Have, he found that a lot of money has been put into these areas in recent years and has not been utilized. The general condition of women has hardly improved. “I want the government to act, show humanity. The men were released there. But is this an acceptable place for women? Does it make sense to put in such places, designed for long sentences for men, women with sentences of a few months, women who are not dangerous? Come on, it must stop! »

Prison conditions

In 2012, the transfer of prisoners from Tanguay prison to Leclerc was temporary, “the time to find a solution to put 150 to 200 women facing justice for petty crimes or, in 62% of cases. case, for non -compliance with the conditions. ”. The women were relocated there in 2016. Six years later, they are still there.“ It’s only temporary that it’s starting to take a while! of the federal government that the establishment of Leclerc was not good enough for men, but the provincial government judged it to be good enough for women ”.

Louise Henry does not deny that she was wrong. Accountant, she puts her fingers on the candy dish … On the other hand, she wonders how the incarceration she and the other women are going through is likely to help them get better.

Often, women behind bars “have psychological problems going back to childhood”, he examined behind barbed wire. Many have “substance problems” that “lead them to prostitution and addiction.” Others are experiencing major “family difficulties”. “There are many mothers in need. He evokes the case of a septuagenarian whose misfortunes only worsen in prison. And then there are indigenous women, heavily represented behind bars, sought after more often than others because they are constantly being harassed and abused. Louise Henry in this matter was inspired by the case of an Aboriginal woman who was left on leave accompanied by another prisoner who, obviously, had “no possible compatibility”, with the explosions we can predict.


At the National Assembly, following the reading in the room of a letter from Sister Marguerite Rivard, a longtime volunteer with prisoners, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, affirmed that “it is normal for incarceration to be difficult. “. Louise Henry couldn’t believe it. “Come and spend the week with us, Mr.ako Guilbault! We’ll see if you find it ‘normal’ to wash your hair with fruit flies swirling around your head ”, with tiny white worms at your feet,‘ called ‘garbage’ by the guards ’, to live with of rats, not to have “drinking water you can afford”. The invitation launched by Louise Henry is valid for the summer, while “there is no mosquito net on the windows and where the heat is terrible”, or even winter, while “heating is lacking”. In this universe, Louise Henry says more than once, “verbal abuse is insane”, and even primary health care is not taken seriously by staff.

Louise Henry, late 50s, talkative, lively, was convicted of fraud and money laundering. He worked as an accountant. Sa Save us from the prison of Leclerc!, he recounted the searches on the strip, the handcuffs, life behind barbed wire, the doors that open and close, the difficulty of getting the medicines we need. “Women should leave there and, in the meantime, they should receive health care, that the medical system works,” she said in an interview.

A cell three meters by seven, with a toilet in one corner, to house a dozen prisoners? Yes, there is, he said. Strip searches on these women are regular. “Because most of them have suffered, during their lifetime, sexual, physical or psychological violence, these searches are often experienced as further aggression and embarrassment”, Lucie Lemonde pointed out in the presentation. Repeated self-destruction and suicide attempts are estimated at approximately thirty per year, in these areas where there is usually no filter, especially since outside telephone communications are restricted. And visits are often suspended due to lack of staff.

Total isolation, excavation, in principle is prohibited? Yet it persists, argues Louise Henry. He recounted the case of an elegant woman who was handcuffed, on the hands and ankles, to at least six guards, who also dressed her in “a kind of neck warmer that climbs over her nose” to prevent her spitting in the face of his prisons.

Another trauma

Does society have to bow so low, Louise Henry wonders, to protect itself from women convicted of petty wrongdoing? “There is no ‘Monica the grapeshot’ in this prison! Instead there are prostitutes, drug addicts, drunks, drug dealers, petty thieves, women in their coming of age, the elderly, crippled lives who go to death faster than others because society marginalizes them. “No help! “Thursday morning, he went to Marie Soleil, a girl who came out of Leclerc.” She has no family. No one helped her. We let her … What will happen to her, do you think? Louise Henry decided that go there for Marie Soleil as for other former prisoners.She intends to devote the remaining years to campaigning to improve the living conditions of these women.

“It is one thing to deny us our freedom. Making us psychologically experience such a descent into hell is different. I feel like a waste of society. No one deserves to be treated like that, regardless of the crime committed. We are human, after all! »

Save us from the prison of Leclerc!

Louise Henry, Éditions Écosociété, Montreal, 2022, 134 pages

To be seen in the video

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