On November 23, 2016, the new Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) of the Quebec East-West District, in conjunction with the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières (UQTR), the Association de services de réinsertion sociale du Québec (ASRSQ), the Société de criminologie du Québec (SCQ) and Picbois Productions, held an event on the theme of reintegration. Nearly 70 people attended the screening of the documentary entitled Ex-détenus [ex-convicts], created by the Picbois Productions team, about the reintegration of ex-convict Michel Brisson after 30 years in prison.
Michel, the subject of the documentary, gave a moving account of his 41 years in the penal and correctional system. He talked about his personal experience and his journey through the reintegration process, for years living in the hostile and constraining environment of the penitentiary, which had lasting effects. Michel became aware that he had been a victim of abuse in his youth, and also understands that he in turn victimized others through his wrongdoing.
After the screening, the partners each explained their mission in the correctional system and their role in the reintegration process. Gilbert Guérette, Chair of the Quebec East-West District CAC, explained the CAC’s mandate as a volunteer, while France Simard, a parole officer at the Laval office, explained CSC’s mandate from detention to reintegration. Afterwards, there was a discussion with the audience, which included students, professors, partners of the justice network, and members of the public. Discussion with the public focused on Michel’s experience, but also touched on aspects such as employment after release from prison, family, and the relationship with parole officers and other workers such as those at transitional housing.
This was the first opportunity for the new CAC of the Quebec East-West District to bring the partners together around an event that concerns all of them. They appreciated the experience and agreed to meet again to organize activities that will raise public awareness of the reality of prison, justice and reintegration.