Treat inmates like human beings: Rogers
NDP Justice Critic Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) had strong words today for the province’s justice system. This morning, another judge heard a request from an accused person for a sentence longer than two years, in order that the accused serve time in a federal penitentiary.
The 19-year-old woman had earlier requested a sentence of two years less a day so she could serve her time in the province and receive support from her family. Today in court, her lawyer asked for the longer sentence because the anti-anxiety medicine prescribed by doctors familiar with her health has been stopped by Dr. David Craig, psychiatrist at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary.
“What kind of system are we running that a young woman feels forced to choose to serve her time away from all her family and supports so that she has access to vital medication?” Rogers said today. “Is this what this province sees as rehabilitation?”
Rogers says government must address the situation before any more people have to suffer.
“I continue to hear stories from inmates and their families about the problems with the psychiatric services in the prison system province-wide. The stories paint a grim picture of pain, humiliation that at times seems to them to border on torture,” said Rogers. “These are our sons and our daughters. We must – we must – do everything we can to help them get back into society and lead productive lives.
“Taking people off their prescribed medication cold turkey while locking them away in solitary confinement is surely not the best we can do.”
Rogers repeated her request for a report commissioned by the minister of justice more than a year ago. “I have repeatedly asked in the House for the minister of justice to table a report on the peer review of psychiatric services at the pen,” she said. “Current practices create an unsafe environment for both inmates and staff. What in God’s name will it take for the department of justice to see the light?”