Unjustified imprisonment for Quebec homeless

Unjustified imprisonment for Quebec homeless

Main pic: Morador de Rua. Photo credit: Divinomar Severino

Quebec City (Quebec) 11 February 2015 – A group of university professors from around the province have written a letter to Quebec City’s councillor for social welfare, Chantal Gilbert asking the city to stop putting the homeless and less fortunate in jail for not paying their fines.

Tickets are handed out for loitering, urinating in the street, and sleeping on park benches on a regular basis to the less fortunate in the city, but since they have no money, no address, and certainly no credit cards, consequently these fines will never be paid. The normal penalty for not paying a fine is spending a certain amount of time behind bars to compensate.

The professors, with the support of the Ligue des droits et libertés, (Rights and Freedoms League) want the city to stop the practice for the homeless stating that it doesn’t solve their problems and only helps their situation get worse.

The group would like the province to intervene and have the law changed to protect the homeless from such a law.

The province changed its law 10 years ago concerning the penalty of imprisonment but, that law does not include municipalities.

According to Sébastien Harvey, the group’s spokesman and coordinator, Mayor Labeaume should take the initiative and have its municipal rules changed to protect the homeless. Montreal has put a moratorium on the practice for the time being and M. Harvey would like to see Quebec City do the same, as a first step to helping the homeless.

A recent study showed that 72% of Montreal’s homeless population spent some time in jail at $25 a day to pay off their fines.

The city’s argument is that everyone should be penalised on the same basis without giving special status to any special group.

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