The NDP Leader is calling on government to address the urgent situation in our province’s correctional facilities. There have been three inmate deaths in correctional facilities, two at the Clarenville Correctional Centre for Women and one at Her Majesty's Penitentiary, in the last three months, and four in the past year.
Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) offers sincere condolences to all the families, corrections staff, and inmates. She says we must improve the provision of core mental health services in these facilities.
Rogers recently met with the Inmates Committee at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John’s, the majority of women inmates at the Clarenville Correctional Centre for Women, and with the senior administration at both facilities.
“We are lacking real, solid mental health and addictions programs in our correctional facilities. There needs to be an emergency response to the current situation.”
It’s clear that we need to address this and have interim measures implemented until the report of the current investigation is released,” Rogers said.
“From severe overcrowding to the proportion of those incarcerated on remand, we need to make serious changes to these facilities.”
“With so much of our crime in the province linked to addictions issues, it’s clear we must give inmates access to drug rehab programs,” Rogers said.
“I am very concerned about what I have heard directly from inmates about their urgent mental health needs not being met, in particular the issue of the lack of continuity of care in therapeutic medication. I am deeply concerned about the level of suffering this is causing.”
“With this in mind, I have asked the Minister of Justice once again for an update on the status of the 5 very clear recommendations emerging from the 2012 External Peer Review of Psychiatric Services in Newfoundland Corrections report authored by Philip E Klassen M.D., FRCP(C), which addressed the provision of psychiatric services offered to inmates by prison psychiatrist Dr. David Craig.”
“We have a moral and legal obligation to keep those who have been incarcerated safe, and to keep the staff working at these institutions safe,” Rogers said.
Rogers says she has also been meeting with and working with the mothers of Scye Martin and Samantha Piercey. She says these mothers are determined that the system can, and must, change.
Rogers is calling for a judicial inquiry into the four recent deaths as well as the overall state of the provincial correction system.