Prison staffing at dangerously low levels: Rogers
NDP Justice Critic Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) says staffing levels at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary are so low that guards are working dangerously long shifts, putting themselves, inmates, and public safety at risk. Rogers says government is neglecting its moral and legal obligation to keep both inmates and staff safe.
“Her Majesty’s Penitentiary is operating at full capacity, yet seriously understaffed,” Rogers said in the House of Assembly today.
“Last month alone there were over 25 24-hour shifts where staff were forced to work back-to-back 12-hour shifts, more than 115 overtime shifts and 211 ‘Double Dinners’ forcing staff to go without a dinner break. This is not a safe working environment.
“I ask the Minister, what is going on?”
Rogers points out that while decreased staff numbers inevitably mean extra work for those who remain in the already-stressful positions, the impact on the inmates in the penitentiary cannot be underestimated.
She points out that the first things to be sacrificed when the prison is short-staffed are programs, activities and recreation. This means inmates often spend long periods under lockdown, starting a dangerous downward spiral in tension and potential problems.
She wants to know what, with summer holiday season starting, the Minister is going to do to ensure adequate staffing is in place.