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LETTER: Prisons and missed opportunities

Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s at Quidi Vidi Lake.
Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s at Quidi Vidi Lake. - Joe Gibbons
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

For the life of me I cannot figure out how some people in government think and what they do?

The prison issues have been discussed for many, many years in every context one could think of and yet there is still no solution in sight.

In my humble opinion, and not being an expert, it seems to me that the minimum-security facility on the Salmonier Line presented an ideal opportunity to construct a new prison facility.

The existing facility could have been upgraded to maximum security with the needed requirements and the area was serene and idyllic. There was ample room for inmates, that qualified to grow the vegetables needed for the facility. The inmates could learn horticulture, canning and preserving, cooking, etc. They could have cows, chickens, ducks and horses — not as punishment but to serve them in obtaining a future employment with the skills learned. Maybe take up agriculture themselves.

There could be a clinic there with a doctor and/or nurse on call or onsite two or three times a week to fill prescriptions and do injections such as for the flu, etc.

Then there could be shops where inmates, that qualified, could learn carpentry, cabinet making, masonry, welding, electrical and HVAC. Retired or unemployed tradespeople could be hired as instructors — all in the name of giving these people a second chance in life to make something of themselves while serving their time.

There existed a serene and idyllic environment to assist those with mental-health issues, again with the clinic for the professionals to consult with inmates.

There was ample room to create walkways around ponds, or make a pond, install bird houses, etc. All in an effort to improve health and help at rehabilitation and only a short drive — 45 minutes or less — to St. John’s.

What better place could be found to help in various rehabilitation? The items made, leather goods, jewelry, cabinetry, chests, etc. could be sold by the prisoners an annual flea market.

I have witnessed this in Angola Prison in Louisiana. Put a six- or eight-foot fence around the whole facility and a walled fence around a maximum facility.

It seems to me it was a great opportunity for the government that, again, was missed.

R.A. Mease


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