Prison workers hold demonstration over health, safety concerns

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Around 50 union members and supporters gathered in the parking lot outside of Her Majesty's Penitentiary (HMP) in St. John’s today to demand immediate action on health and safety issues in the prison.

Workers at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) in St. John's, who are members of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), held a demonstration outside the prison today over health and safety concerns. — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

Carol Furlong, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees (NAPE), said the government needs to beef up staffing and change protocols to protect both workers and inmates.

The protest comes in the wake of a violent attack in the HMP chapel last week, and concerns about safety in the facility.

Most guards at the protest said the government has placed a gag order on them, and they can't talk about what goes on in the institution.

Correctional officers say they are using today’s demonstration to bring their concerns for the health, safety and protection of themselves, inmates, visitors and volunteers to the public’s attention.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees

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Recent comments

  • ambros
    February 17, 2014 - 22:40

    Jim, either you are an x inmate with a beef against the corrections officers or you just HATE CORRECTIONS OFFICERS! we, yes we, corrections officers work in a desperate work space every day. We accepted to serve and protect the people of Newfoundland. That does not mean to lay on the floor and let someone stab you to death! I have witnessed death, horrible death. Staff that commit suicide, inmates that commit suicide, but we stand up and be counted. We are professionals, and deserve better from the government! We are an extension of the people of NL.....We deserve to be armed with firearms on escort, armed with OC and batons.....TO BE SAFE!!!

  • ex inmate
    February 17, 2014 - 22:32

    I fully understand there need of more gaurds but what about when stuff isn't going there way and 2 or 3 gaurds take a inmate in the elevator or down the stairs to see the doctor and assult them ????? for no reason only for power because what they say is on the street your in your home but I quote do here this is my house and this is all my brothers????? so its fine for them to assault inmates??

  • James
    February 17, 2014 - 21:41

    Yes, it is past time where those workers were given a decent work environment. It will always be hard and dangerous work but it can be made much safer. The Justice Department and the General Public needs to be on the side of the Corrections Officers.

  • JOEL
    February 17, 2014 - 16:00

    Dear Telegram just wanted to know why my comment is not posted yet ,I commented on the Truth what goes on inside the HMP I will only go on open line with it so wouldn`t you want to be the first to hear the truth I`m sure the public has a right to hear from an ex -inmate or do you the Telegram also have a gag order from the HMP and the Government thank you

  • Retired officer
    February 17, 2014 - 15:08

    First of all you have a citizens representative and bureaucrats at Confederation building running the Pen. Years ago the management at HMP had full control of the prison and it ran much smoother. Now you have fools with no knowledge or experience calling the shots. If the Asst. Superintendant isn't going to back his staff and keep them safe then its time to retire or be fired. Whomever put the officers and inmates in harms way should be let go because they are unfit to run the place.Where is the support for frontline workers by HMP management? Seems like they treat staff worse than the inmates . Time to make changes at the top ,build a new pen ,provide OC Spray and batons to the staff , and increase staff numbers before someone is killed.

  • Mike
    February 17, 2014 - 14:46

    Minister King lacks the knowledge, experience and, therefore, the ability to execute his duties in this portfolio. Except for those die-hard tories within justice, there is no confidence in King's ability to make decisions necessary to ensure the safety of the electorate through proper operation of his department. Imagine the depth of ignorance required to increase funding to law enforcement (thank you Paul Davis) and not see the resultant need for additional resources in prosecutions and corrections. His lack of ability is not only due to having no experience in the area, look at our current AG the ever-incompetent Felix Collins, a lawyer that rivals George Bush, Jr. for ineptitude. There is no easy solution, but I know that these politicians are incapable of making the necessary decisions. People will get hurt on their watch, they will be responsible, but not held accountable.

  • jim
    February 17, 2014 - 14:29

    Who cares. Correction officers certainly act big and tuff downtown. From what was said this riot started with a group jumping one guy so what does that have to do with the guards?

    • Steve
      February 17, 2014 - 15:35

      Jim, are you for real? Or do you live in a cave like your intelligence alludes to? Guards are the ones who facilitate such things as chapel service. Therefore the is a Guard present throughout the entire service. If your mother/father was a clergyman for any demoniation, would you be happy with them being alone in a chapel with 30 inmates? I would hope not. Correctional Officers have a duty to ensure prisoner safety; thus putting their own lives at risk to ensure this happens. Unless you would like to walk a day in a Correctional Officers shoes, keep your ignorance to yourself.

    • sarah
      February 17, 2014 - 16:53

      there were no guards present, they were all inside the bubble

    • sarah
      February 17, 2014 - 16:53

      there were no guards present, they were all inside the bubble

  • JOEL
    February 17, 2014 - 14:14

    For one thing yes the institution needs to be 100% revamped, second of all I can tell you something right now as an X inmate and many inmates can back me up on this that the guards and the white shirts meaning Sargents, Lieutenants , Captains, couldn't give a crap about any inmates there if they died suffered or whatever. I myself have witnessed on many occasions that guards physically and mentally abuse inmates and refuse medical care to inmates that are sick , hurt and say we can`t do nothing we are under staffed. Guards that accuse inmates with mental illnesses of being on illegal drugs because they act slow or they do need further medical care or medicine and they end up getting treated badly because of the poorly educated Guards in there eyes and mind your treated like everyone else. Weekend inmates that serve only weekends only get issued one pair of socks, one t-shirt and one pair of underwear with one pair of coveralls and they don't care if they are too small or too big for you you have to wear them anyway. Often you might get a hygiene bag containing a tiny stick of deodorant which may be used, two tiny bars of soap which melt in your hands after a couple uses, a razor and a tube of toothpaste, and a small rubber toothbrush, sometimes you may get all these in a bag and other times you will be lucky to get anything at all. You may ask a guard over and over for one of these bags but the answer will be either "ya I will get it when I'm ready or ask the next shift to get it for you or you won't get it at all, and if you keep asking for one they just tell you to shut up or you won't get anything. When you get a bedroll meaning your linens you get 2 thin blankets, and one cotton sheet to put over your mattress and the same thing goes you may get it you may not. I have seen inmates go a whole day or 2 without where others had to share theirs just so they would have something to lie on and cover up in. You stay in a very unsanitary place which is full of dirt, blood, feces, and urine and its never cleaned and its up to the inmate to try to clean it as best as they can provide with the little means to do so even if it wasn't their mess. The mattresses are paper thin and torn stained with urine, blood and other bodily fluids, the guards answer to that is too bad you got one sleep on it. For food they say they give you three meals a day they give you 2 meals and a snack with the amount of food per serving would be enough for a child in daycare, and only 3 tiny milk cartons a week with 2 small juice a week as well. Now there is more cuts where they are cutting down on meals and fluids because the guards say this is budget cuts. There are guys in there getting underfed and malnourished due to your budget cuts it is crazy what you see and experience, In these conditions you have to stay with inmates who have AIDS, Hepatitis etc. The inmates are 100% in more danger than the guards or workers will ever be in they don`t need more Guards or more weapons to give them a excuse to use freely and intimidate everyone with because that`s what will happen as they abuse there power now. they need to be more educated and take the ones out of there who are abusive that shouldn`t be there. My overall experiences with HMP was HELL WITH THE TREATMENT OF THE GUARDS, SARGENTS , LIEUTENANTS, CAPTAINS. ALOT OF INMATES DON`T DESERVE THE TREATMENT THAT YOU GET CAUSE A LOT OF INMATES ARE THERE FOR PETTY CRIMES AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT SOME INMATES THAT ARE VERY GOOD PEOPLE THAT JUST MADE SOME MISTAKES, BUT AS SOON WHEN YOU GO TO THAT GATE (GUARD HOUSE) YOUR TREATED 100% PIECE OF CRAP NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE OR WHERE YOU COME FROM YOUR A LOWLIFE SOME GUARDS EVEN GET A KICK OUT OF DOING SO. IF ANYTHING THAT NEEDS TO BE REVAMPED OR CHANGED ITS THE GUARDS AND STAFF`S PERSONALITY AND ATTITUDE AS WELL AS THE LIVING CONDITIONS!!!!!