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“Women’s Jail Here Shuts Doors, Refusing to Accept Prisoners,” Montreal Gazette. July 3, 1948. Page 03.

The Fullum Street Women’s Jail closed its doors last night, and, for perhaps the first time in its history, refused to accept prisoners.

The unprecendented move by both the Catholic and Protestant authorities of the institution came about when 10 female prisoners from the cells of the Montreal Police Department were refused transfer to the jail, quashing a custom practiced for many years.

Cessation of a contract with the Provincial Government and failure of new negotiations to materialize were the reasons unofficially cited as the cause of the ‘closed door’ reception.

The jail is divided into two sections. One is operated by sisters of a Catholic order, the other by Protestant organizations. Although the jail is a provincial jail, it is apparently operated through contracts which provide for salaries, overhead and other administration items.

Asst. Dir. J. A. Belanger, of the Montreal police department, said that the move came as a surprise to the department and that they were forced to re-accommodate the 10 prisoners in police cells.

The police official said that authorities of the jail had declared that their contract with the Provincial Government had expired and that they would not accept any more prisoners.

There were rumors last night that authorities of the jail had set July 1 as an ultimatum in new negotiations with the province and that failure of the government to meet the new commitments resulted in the action taken.

The closing of the jail presents a serious problem to local police departments which are neither accommodated nor authorized by law to hold prisoners in their own cells following either a jail sentence or in between court appearances.

Last night, the Prisoner’s Department of the city police transported 12 women to the women’s jail. Only two, who had been released from the institution to police custody for court appearance, were re-admitted The other 10 were refused entrance.

An official of the jail contaced by The Gazette last night said that the institution was not overcrowded. She admitted that there was ‘some mix-up’ but would say nothing as to whether the trouble stemmed from negotiations with the government.

Among the 10 prisoners rejected by the jail, one had been sentenced in court to two months in jail, according to Dir. Belanger. This prisoner was returned, to police cells, with the others. Although lodged in cells her sentence will not be purged, however, since time in police cells is not subtracted from the sentence.

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