Conditions at decaying Newfoundland jail would be 'inhumane' anywhere else: professor

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador criminologist says working and living conditions at a Victorian-era jail in St. John's include mouldy cells, rodent and insect infestations, undrinkable water and an unsafe environment.

Rosemary Ricciardelli outlined a litany of concerns today as she presented a report on the experiences of correctional officers at Her Majesty's Penitentiary and their ideas for the design of a new facility.

The oldest parts of the crumbling penitentiary date to 1859 and the provincial government has promised a replacement will be built within four years.

Ricciardelli told reporters that after consulting with 28 correctional officers, she found they want the new facility to include basic accommodations such as somewhere to change their clothes, as well as better mental health and addictions support for inmates.

She says the present conditions at Her Majesty's Penitentiary would be considered "inhumane" and intolerable at any other government facility.

Ricciardelli says she expects it will take more than four years for a new jail, and in the meantime officers need more training and inmates need more programming.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2023.

The Canadian Press