Justice Minister Felix Collins is making no promises on when the public will get to see details of a controversial report into the work of prison psychiatrist
Dr. David Craig, except that something will be coming, “sooner rather than later.”
The latest promise of expediency from Collins on addressing the persistent complaints about prison psychiatric services comes nearly four years after concerns were first officially raised, and more than a year and a half after Collins ordered a peer review of Craig’s service.
The Department of Justice now has the peer review in hand, but after more than two weeks of study, Collins said, the department is still working its way through it.
“That’s a very comprehensive report that we’ve been a long time waiting for, and I realize that there’s a lot of public interest in it,” he said. “We want to take time to properly analyze it. There’s a lot in it. When we do that, we will certainly be speaking to the press on the details of the report.”
A steady stream of inmates have complained about Craig’s conservative prescription practices, alleging he frequently pulls patients off all psychiatric drugs cold-turkey when they enter the correctional system.
Last month, The Telegram detailed the story of one inmate who was on a number of psychiatric drugs — properly prescribed by his regular physician — who went into jail and had nearly all of them removed immediately by Craig.
Craig was specifically identified as an issue in the 2008 comprehensive review of the correctional system, “Decades of Darkness” and more recently, in the spring of 2011, Citizens’ Representative Barry Fleming called Craig’s service into question.
At the time, Collins acknowledged Fleming’s concerns, but said only another psychiatrist was appropriately qualified to assess Craig’s performance; for more than a year and a half, the government has been waiting for the results of a peer review.
When pressed by The Telegram, Collins wouldn’t give any specific commitments, on when information would be made public.
“We got the review about two weeks ago and we’re looking at it very closely, and we want to make sure we do our due diligence in considering that report, and hopefully sooner rather than later, we’ll be talking to you about that report,” he said. “As soon as we are comfortable with our review, and ready to report to the press, we’ll do it.”
Liberal MHA Andrew Parsons didn’t mince words when he heard about Collins’ timelines.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” he said. “At this point, I don’t know if and when we will ever get it.”
Parsons said as far as he’s concerned, two weeks is more than enough time to review a report and make it public.
“He’s had ample time to review this,” he said. “At this point, the public deserves some disclosure here, but then, that’s another hallmark of this government, this need for control over information at all costs.”
New Democrat MHA Gerry Rogers went further, suggesting that from her conversations with inmates, Craig’s psychiatric methods could constitute a human rights violation.
“This is absolutely totally neglectful on behalf of this government to not have dealt with this in a timely manner,” she said. “Regardless of what you’re incarcerated for, you have a right to your basic, full medical treatment. And this, at times, seems like it’s violating that basic human right.”