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LETTER: Thoughts on pretty lakes, prisons and priorities

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

I went for a walk yesterday. Rennie’s Mill brook was running fast, green-grey.

It was raining in a fair to middling way but I grew up in Manchester, so a little drizzle doesn’t faze me.

As I walked around Quidi Vidi Lake I was alone in the rain-sheeted twilight. I hadn’t done the circuit for a while so I was surprised to see earth moving equipment and that a large swath of sod had been removed on the far side of the water.

Some large rocks were already in place, for what I was not quite sure but they do look nice.

I rounded the lake and as I approached the boat house, wondering as I always do why no one swims or kayaks in QVL, I came upon another major earthwork with large holes, new sewer pipes and lots of large Tonka trucks and I was forced to walk through what had been the parking lot.

Normal stuff, I thought.

Then I looked up at the HMP turret, empty and foreboding. Then I got to thinking, lots of money being spent on fixing up a lake that is only crowded on Regatta Day and enjoyed sparsely the rest of the year.

There, up behind the wall, are men in miserable conditions, walled up in the grotesque blue prison that stands between the lake and graveyard.

As I passed the groomed graveyard I wondered about our priorities.

It’s a matter of public record that the Pen is a Victorian horror, a bedlam in 2018. Why, then, don’t we put the cash into making into more livable before we move rocks around the lake and fettle the sewers?

Priorities, I guess, but they didn’t ask me as far as I recall and I’d be happy to forego my pleasant perambulation around the lake if it provided better living conditions for the men in HMP.

I don’t doubt that many others would be of the same mindset if they were asked.

William Radford

St. John’s

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