I have read and watched the various news reports in the past day or two regarding the release of the report on Dr. David Craig and his handling of inmates at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary who suffer from various mental issues and were entering the facility on medications prescribed by their respective doctors.
I watched and read the news reports and information from new Justice Minister Darin King wherein he indicates that the report is an “exoneration for Dr. Craig.” I have also read the Nov. 7 article by Barb Sweet, “Standard of care of prisons not acceptable: advocate” regarding information from Mark Gruchy, president of the province’s division of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Not having read the actual report issued by the peer of Dr. Craig, I am limited to information on which I can base my comments to only that provided by the media. However, having seen and read the most recent information, I can say that I am hopeful that with the proposed implementation of the various recommendations by Dr. Philip Klassen in the report, things will change for the inmates who suffer from various mental illnesses. Mr. Gruchy is absolutely correct when he stated in Ms. Sweet’s article, “People aren’t getting the care they deserve as human beings.” It appears also from the article that this may not be all Dr. Craig’s fault. However, the simple fact remains that as government takes a long time to sort this matter out, the individuals who have had medications ended by Dr. Craig are still likely dealing with their medical issues without the benefit of their medications, and that, from a human rights perspective, is unacceptable.
Based on information included in the Oct. 2nd article about Doug Squires, if, as stated, Dr. Craig ended Squires’ medications cold-turkey and as an additional punishment for being incarcerated, while this may not be an issue that Dr. Klassen deemed inappropriate or substandard from a psychiatric perspective, Minister King should be very concerned about whether or not it is appropriate from a justice perspective.
I personally believe it is inappropriate from a medical/psychiatric perspective, but that’s a purely personal opinion. I do, however, feel quite strongly that if nothing else, it is an inappropriate human rights and justice issue.
Whether the information/statements made by Mr. Squires in the Oct. 2nd article are correct or not as to how he was treated by Dr. Craig, it is something that should/could have been looked at by Dr. Klassen, had the inmates been interviewed. However, they can and certainly should be looked at by the government to make sure that inmates are being treated with respect as human beings.
So, the title of Ms. Sweet’s article — “Standard of care in prisons not acceptable” — in my opinion says it all. The standard for care offered to inmates, at least in the area of mental illness, is unacceptable. It appears that’s the case across Canada, based on Dr. Klassen's findings that Dr. Craig’s care of inmates is standard. The fact that the care of these individuals at HMP may be “standard when compared to other provinces” doesn’t mean that we in this province can’t do better.
Why not be a progressive leader and provide the same level of care to these inmates as provided to the general public? A first step might be to have Dr. Craig (or others) reinstate the medications for inmates immediately while this whole matter is dealt with so they don’t have to continue to be penalized a second time for whatever caused them to be incarcerated in the first place. I would challenge Minister King to do exactly that.
Brian Richey writes from Paradise.