Gerry Rogers Question Period (05.14.2012)

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, we know that Bill C-10 means increased downloading on the provincial corrections system in the near future and that the federal government has made it clear they have no intention to fund the construction of a new prison to replacement Her Majesty’s Penitentiary.

Mr. Speaker, given the poor conditions and increasingly overcrowded status of this aging penitentiary that makes it unsafe for both staff and inmates, what does the government plan to do to address this problem?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, we are well aware of the conditions of Her Majesty’s Penitentiary. Mr. Speaker, we will have Her Majesty’s Penitentiary with us for some time. If we were to get a new penitentiary approved tomorrow, it would still be five to six years before we would be able to get in.

We are currently, Mr. Speaker, assessing all of our infrastructure projects in this Province in corrections. We hope to have some proposals ready for government within the year with respect to how we can better organize our correctional facilities and make some recommendations to government in this respect.

Mr. Speaker, we have not been standing still. We have put $7 million into our correctional infrastructure in the last three years. We have had major additions and improvements to all our correctional facilities. We will continue to do so, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Member for St. John’s Centre.

MS ROGERS: Mr. Speaker, is the government intending to reassign the Whitbourne Youth Detention Centre for the purpose of dealing with the overflow from HMP? If Whitbourne is reassigned, what does the government intend to do with the youth who are being held in this institution?

MR. SPEAKER: The hon. the Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. F. COLLINS: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned earlier, we are in the process of assessing all of our correctional facilities to see how we can rearrange, modify, retrofit, or whatever to try to address our capacity problems in corrections. Whitbourne is certainly one of those facilities presently under study, Mr. Speaker, and part of the ongoing assessment. It will be part of the decision, Mr. Speaker, to inform us going forward.

Associated Caucus Members: 
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