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Court shuts down inmate’s request to close prison

Kenny Green sought to have a judge rule that the province was prohibited from operating Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, due to the institution being “filthy and decrepit,” among other deficiencies.
Kenny Green sought to have a judge rule that the province was prohibited from operating Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, due to the institution being “filthy and decrepit,” among other deficiencies.

The Newfoundland Supreme Court has ruled against an application by Kenny Green to have Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) shut down for good.

Green, convicted of manslaughter for the killing of Joey Whalen on Tessier Place in St. John’s four years ago, is suing the province for negligence in connection with a riot at the penitentiary that saw him stabbed and beaten by other inmates.

Green’s lawyer, Lynn Moore, had applied to the court to amend Green’s original statement of claim. The proposed amendment included an order that the court prohibit the province from operating HMP.

The statement of claim alleges the prison is in “such a deplorable condition as to constitute inhumane, cruel and unusual treatment,” is “filthy and decrepit,” and lacks proper space, air conditioning, programming and numbers of correctional officers.

“These deficiencies and general lack of a proper and humane institution placed (Green) at an unacceptable risk of battery,” the proposed amendment read. “This risk, which was realized for (Green), would have been minimized by a proper functioning institution.”

The province failed to mitigate the risk by operating the prison in its current state, thereby violating Green’s charter rights by not providing him with “security of the person,” the claim read.

Thursday morning, Justice Carl Thompson dismissed Moore’s application to have the original statement of claim amended, saying the request to close HMP went, in his view, “far beyond” any personal relief sought by Green.

“A claim for relief of the closure of the prison is disproportionate to the claim for relief to date,” Thompson said, adding the court could be overstepping its bounds by making such an order.

“(It) could serve to have the judiciary branch enter an area reserved for government,” he said.

Moore told The Telegram that Green, who is still serving a sentence outside the province, has recovered from his stabbing injuries, but still suffers from muscular-skeletal issues and memory problems as a result of the riot, which happened in the chapel at HMP during a service in 2014.

Surveillance video shows dozens of inmates entering the chapel and a Salvation Army clergyman beginning the service before one inmate covers the camera with a wet paper towel. The towel later falls, and the camera footage shows a bloody brawl involving multiple men. Green was beaten, stabbed with homemade knives and struck in the head with a broken church pew.

A number of inmates were convicted in relation to the assault.

In its statement of defence, the province said it was not negligent, since officers had warned Green in advance about information they had received of a potential attack. Green chose to attend the service anyway.

David Rodgers, the lawyer representing the province, declined comment after court Thursday.

A date has not been set for the continuation of the lawsuit.

 

Tara.bradbury@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @tara_bradbury

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