Corrections officers in the province will now carry pepper spray, and there will be new metal detectors installed at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) in response to security concerns at the province’s largest prison.
© — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Justice Minister Darin King, alongside Graham Rogerson, superintendent of prisons, announced Friday corrections officers at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary will be issued with pepper spray.
Justice Minister Darin King made the announcement Friday morning, alongside Graham Rogerson, superintendent of prisons.
The move comes after a vicious assault in the chapel at HMP, and ongoing security concerns. Last year, guards lost control of part of the building and needed the assistance of the RNC tactical unit to get things back under control.
“We responded very quickly when the correctional officers expressed concern to us,” King said.
Last month, there was a protest staged by corrections officers outside HMP calling for changes.
At the time, Carol Furlong, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees, said increased staffing was one of the big things that should be fixed to make the facility safer.
But on Friday, she said the union is happy with the pepper spray and metal detectors.
“When you make up your Christmas list, you don’t get every single item that you wanted, but you probably get the major things that you want,” she said.
“It’s more than just pepper spray. We’re very pleased that the minister has listened to what we have to say, and has acted.”
The government also announced it will buy a pair of new prisoner-transport vehicles — at a cost of about $200,000 — which isn’d directly related to the security concerns, but will make inmates and staff safer.
Liberal MHA Tom Osborne said that without more staff at HMP, things won’t be fixed.
“At the end of the day, there are still staffing issues down there. And while new vehicles are great and they’re needed, without proper staffing at the penitentiary, many of the issues raised by the correctional officers are still unaddressed,” he said. “The vehicles would have been one that may not directly impact preventing an incident, but it impacts inmate safety and correctional officer safety.”