The Association of Quebec Prison Lawyers (“AAADCQ”) exercises its expertise in prison administrative law. It was created in May 1992 and over the years has contributed to the promotion of this legal field.
Our mission is founded on the advancement of prison law and the defense of individual freedoms and fundamental rights of prisoners.
In 1993, the AAADCQ presented a brief to the Parliamentary Commission concerning the reform of the legal aid system. Following this intervention, a pricing grid was included in the Legal Aid Act, thereby recognizing the right to counsel for prisoners.
Prison lawyers are mandated by detainees, in both provincial prisons and federal penitentiaries, to work as counsel before various prison authorities. Representation is necessary as decisions from the various committees (e.g. Disciplinary Tribunal, Parole Boards) affect their lives and their fundamental rights. We may also be called upon to plead before provincial and federal Superior Courts to contest decisions stemming from the various correctional bodies.
Our association contributes to the respect of the Rule of Law and to the Duty to act fairly of the common law.
As early as 1979, the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed in Solosky vs The Queen, (1979) 50 CCC (2nd) 495, that detained persons retain their fundamental rights. This decision followed the MacGuigan Report, which recommended the implementation of the rule of law and procedural rules within penitentiaries; allowing institutional activities to be subject to judicial review.
These principles have long been confirmed and maintained by the Courts. In fact, on November 1, 1992, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act came into force. Section 4 (d) of this Law states:
- (d) offenders retain the rights of all members of society except those that are, as a consequence of the sentence, lawfully and necessarily removed or restricted;
As prison law developed, the Courts confirmed the need for detainees to have access to lawyers specialized in this field to defend their rights and represent them in administrative procedures, to deal with the complexity of the prison system, of its laws, regulations and numerous procedures.
It is within this framework that the AAADCQ established its mission, which is directed towards the protection of life, liberty, and security of the detained person. Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that:
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”
We work every day towards attaining and protecting this right for all.
(Thank you to the author Me Jacinthe Lanctôt)