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Red Coalition calling for investigation into systemic racism in Quebec jails

By Tina Tenneriello, Posted Jan 18, 2023, 12:00PM EST.

The Red Coalition is calling on Quebec’s Ombudsman of Correction Services to launch a special investigation into the extent of systemic racism in the province’s correctional facilities.
The request comes a day after Quebec’s Chief Coroner ordered a public inquiry be held into the death of Nicous D’Andre Spring, a 21-year-old Black inmate who died after sustaining injuries at Bordeaux Prison in Montreal. He was reportedly pepper sprayed by guards while wearing a spit hood.
Quebec’s Public Security Ministry confirmed Spring, who was illegally detained at the jail, died the day after the physical intervention at Bordeaux on Dec. 24. He should have been set free the previous day.
In a letter to the Public Protector, sent by email to CityNews, the Red Coalition, who is representing his family, said while they welcome the Chief Coroner’s decision, it must go further.
The anti-racism group says they believe “the death of Nicous D’Andre Spring in Bordeaux is not the only death that has occurred in similar circumstances.” Adding “this is only the tip of the iceberg which signals to us that perhaps the use of excessive and abusive force is informally a tolerable norm by correctional officers in the institutional setting of the prison.”
The letter includes data made public in November 2022 by the Correctional Investigator of Canada which revealed that “systemic concerns and barriers, including endemic racial discrimination, stereotyping and bias, are more pervasive and persistent in federal prisons than ever before. Black prisoners make up 9.2% of the total prison population, although they make up only about 3.5% of the entire Canadian population. More than a third of them are young black men between the ages of 18 and 30.”
“The federal survey also found that Black inmates were more likely to be overrepresented in maximum security institutions, involved in use of force incidents, involuntarily transferred, held in solitary confinement, charged in an institution, and assessed as high risk.”
The Red Coalition is calling for similar data to be collected in provincial correctional facilities in order to prevent a similar incident from happening again as well as for the improvement of correctional services.
The letter also states the Red Coalition would like video footage of the intervention involving Nicous D’Andre Spring at Bordeaux made public, if available, an independent autopsy and the creation of a citizen oversight board for Quebec correctional services as they exist in the United States.



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