This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.
Anyone hoping notorious killer Luka Magnotta is rotting in a cell would be sorely disappointed to read his letters to friends, which describe prison as a "university setting" complete with gourmet food, sunbathing, and sports.
Magnotta, 33, is serving a life sentence for dismembering Lin Jun, 33, in Montreal in 2012. He made a snuff film about the crime and mailed Jun's body parts around the country, including one package addressed to then-prime minister Stephen Harper.
Until recently, Magnotta was stationed at Quebec's Archambault Institution, though he reportedly recently moved to a maximum security prison. One of his friends recently shared Magnotta's letters with Postmedia, in which he talks about the rehabilitation process at Archambault in fairly upbeat terms.
"The food here is really, really good and they serve a lot. The Italian is the best. I also love the ice cream," he wrote, noting he sometimes attends pizza parties. With doors at the maximum-security prison "open 90 percent of the time" he compared the atmosphere to school.
Magnotta says he works in the kitchen every day and chills to Celine Dion, whose tunes he listens to on a portable stereo when he tans outdoors. He also claims he spends two hours a day playing sports like hockey and tennis and an hour working out in the gym. The one hardship appears to be the poor chocolate selection.
"These fucking assholes said they would add Ferrero Rocher and they didn't. They just want all their choices on the canteen. Some people are so fucking selfish it piss's me off," he writes.
"He's really putting a very nice spin on all of this," said Catherine Latimer, executive director of the John Howard Society of Canada, a charity that supports rehabilitation of offenders, when VICE asked her about the feasibility of Magnotta's descriptions.
Latimer said on the whole, prison conditions in Canada are pretty bad.
"The maximum security prisons that I know have pretty significant lockdowns. Guys are in their cells for 22 hours a day."
She said there are canteens, where you could get chocolate, but in general the food situation is "grim."
In BC, where meals are all cooked in one place and shipped out, "Their food is green, it's rotten, and cold," Latimer told VICE. "The inmates that I've talked to would not have seen ice cream for a very long time."
Latimer says most prisons have a gym, but in general sports programming has been cutback, something she describes as unfortunate. The same is true for academic programming, she says. (Magnotta told his friends he's learning French and was pondering what post-secondary courses to pursue.)
"I've heard a lot of complaints about the extent to which access to academic courses, particularly university level courses are available," said Latimer.
"There's really been a clampdown on that."
Considering Magnotta spent years trying to drum up attention for himself online with fake profiles, it's not unlikely he's largely full of shit. Maximum security prison is still as terrible as it sounds.
Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.