Over 200 prisoners have accidentally left Quebec provincial jails before their sentences were served since 2015 due to bureaucratic fumbles, the Globe and Mail revealed recently.
Some of the inmates had been convicted or accused of violent crimes, such as assault, robbery and sexual assault.
The Globe cited hundreds of pages of incident reports from the province’s Ministry of Public Security, which oversees the provincial corrections system.
The reports show that 175 inmates were let go by mistake between January 2015 and January 2022 because of staff mistakes, such as mixing up inmates with alike names, misunderstanding court instructions and poor communication.
Ministry spokesperson Louise Quintin said that 29 more inmates were released by accident between April 2022 and March 2023.
One inmate facing assault and other charges was freed from Amos Detention Centre despite being subject to a transfer to a therapy centre.
According to the government, “no major offence was committed by a released person between his release and the regularization of his situation” but some offenders visited their former victims.
In another case, a man related to the Hells Angels was freed after he was mistaken for another inmate with a similar name despite having two more months left to serve.
The incident reports were initially sent to the Globe in an unredacted form on May 31, after a request under the province’s access to information law.
The next day, the ministry asked the Globe to shred the documents, citing privacy and security concerns, and promised to send a redacted copy.
However, the redacted version omitted not only the names of the inmates and staff involved but also the nature of the offences and the details of the errors and their impact on public safety.
The ministry defended the redactions as necessary under the law, but declined to comment on specific cases.