Archambault Institution, located in Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Quebec, is a federal penitentiary operated by Correctional Service Canada. The facility first opened in the late 1960s, with the minimum security unit opening in 1968 followed by the medium security unit in 1969.
Over the past 50+ years, Archambault has housed some of Canada’s most infamous criminals and garnered much publicity – both good and bad.
The institution is comprised of two main units:
- Minimum security unit: Houses inmates deemed low-risk, with a capacity of 165 inmates.
- Medium security unit: Houses moderate to high-risk inmates, with a capacity of 284.
In total, Archambault can incarcerate approximately 450 male offenders at a given time. The facility employs over 250 staff.
A few of the most well-known criminals to have served time in Archambault Institution include:
- Léopold Dion: Serial killer convicted of 5 murders who spent over 30 years in Archambault before being transferred.
- Valery Fabrikant: Former professor who shot and killed four colleagues at Concordia University in 1992. He is serving a life sentence at the facility.
- Luka Magnotta: Gained notoriety for filming and distributing graphic video content in 2012, convicted of first-degree murder.
- Jacques Mesrine: One of Canada’s most famous bank robbers, kidnappers and escape artists in the 1960s-70s. He was incarcerated several times before his death.
Rehabilitation and Reintegration Programs
Like all federal prisons in Canada, Archambault offers inmates various programs and services to help prepare them for potential reintegration into society. These include:
- Academic and vocational education
- Psychological services
- Spiritual guidance
- Substance abuse counseling
- Community integration services
However, some have criticized these initiatives as being underfunded and inadequate in recent years.
Life Inside Archambault Institution
So what is daily life actually like for prisoners inside Archambault Institution?
Typical Day for Inmates
A typical weekday might look something like this:
- 5:30am: Wake up call
- 6:00am – 8:30am: Breakfast + cell cleaning
- 8:30am – 11:30am: Work/education/programming
- 11:30am – 1:00pm: Lunch + yard time
- 1:00pm – 3:30pm: Work/education/programming
- 3:30pm – 5:00pm: Free time
- 5:00pm – 7:00pm: Supper
- 7:00pm – 10:00pm: Leisure activities in common areas
- 10:00pm: Lock-up in cells for the night
Visitation Rules and Privileges
Inmates are allowed visitors during set hours on weekends and holidays, with privileges earned through good behavior. Conjugal visits are also permitted for inmates with spouses or common-law partners.
The Future of Archambault Institution
In recent years, a range of reforms and changes have been proposed to improve operations at Archambault:
Proposed Changes and Reforms
- Expansion project to increase capacity
- Enhanced rehabilitation programs focusing on mental health and addiction treatment
- Modernization of facilities and infrastructure
- Alternative correctional programs such as electronic monitoring
However, significant challenges remain:
Challenges Facing the Facility
- Overcrowding issues with rising incarceration rates
- Understaffing leading to safety and human rights concerns
- High costs of upgrading aging buildings and technology
Addressing these complex issues will likely require substantial investments and renewed public policy debates in coming years.
For over 50 years, Archambault Institution has been home to some of Canada’s most notorious criminals. While the facility aims to both punish crimes and rehabilitate inmates, it continues to grapple with overcrowding, controversies and criticism over conditions and human rights. Ongoing modernization efforts and policy reforms will shape Archambault’s future – but public attitudes and political will determine how Canada balances punishment and rehabilitation.
Q1. When did Archambault Institution first open?
A1. Archambault first opened in the late 1960s. The minimum security unit opened in 1968 and the medium security unit in 1969.
Q2. What is Archambault Institution’s total inmate capacity?
A2. Archambault can incarcerate approximately 450 male offenders at a given time.
Q3. What types of programs are offered to inmates at Archambault?
A3. Inmates have access to academic and vocational training, psychological services, spiritual guidance, addiction counseling, community reintegration services and more.
Q4. How many staff work at the facility?
A4. Archambault employs over 250 staff members.
Q5. Has the facility dealt with issues like overcrowding in recent years?
A5. Yes, like many Canadian correctional facilities, Archambault has faced challenges with rising incarceration rates leading to overcrowding.