Still waiting for psychiatrist review: Rogers
NDP Justice Critic Gerry Rogers (MHA, St. John’s Centre) says the province is still waiting for the Department of Justice to release the report of the peer review into psychiatric services at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary. A sentence imposed yesterday by Judge Pamela Goulding has highlighted, once again, the ongoing concerns about access to prescribed medication for inmates of the province’s penitentiary system.
Judge Goulding agreed with a defendant’s lawyer to allow a man to serve his 30-day sentence on weekends. The lawyer had requested the weekend sentence because she knew the man’s depression medication would be taken away from him by the prison psychiatrist.
“For the second time in a month, a judge has adapted sentencing because of concerns about psychiatric care,” says Rogers. “This case, once again, highlights the incredible problems around the psychiatric services in our province’s penitentiary system. This has been going on for years. A government-sponsored review pointed out this problem, judges point it out, staff at the penitentiaries have pointed it out, lawyers point it out, inmates, family members and advocates have pointed it out. When is this government going to do something about it?”
Rogers says depriving people of medicine goes against the entire aims of the criminal justice system.
“The ultimate goal of our justice system should be rehabilitation,” she says. “How can we expect inmates with diagnosed mental illnesses to become contributing members of society without the medicine they have been prescribed?
“We cannot refuse treatment. People with mental health problems have the right to treatment, whether they are incarcerated or not. It is a basic human right. It is shameful how this government is dragging its feet on the resolution of this very serious problem.”