Newfoundland Correctional Facilities

Users have shared some interesting information on the correctional centres of Newfoundland, some of which are detailed below.

Her Majesty's Penitentiary

Her Majesty's Penitentiary was built in 1859 (and renovated in the 1940s, 1980s and early 1990s), and is a medium/maximum security facility for male prisoners that also houses inmates awaiting transfer to federal prisons. (Currently, there is no federal prison in Newfoundland - those serving sentences of two years or more are transferred to Atlantic, Dorchester or Springhill in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Federal inmates who are residents of Newfoundland can be transferred to HMP after serving a portion of their sentences in other facilities.)

During the end of 2005/beginning of 2006, there were a series of lockdowns - four in a three month span - due to a reported assault on a guard and missing items that could be fashioned into weapons. In February of 2006, inmates staged a peaceful protest to draw attention to the poor living conditions in the 150-year-old prison, alleging infestations of insects, mold in cells and showers, a lack of running water in some cells, cells exposed to the elements and overcrowding. The Superintendent of Prisons of the province acknowledged the issue of overcrowding but denied that conditions were that bad inside. The prison was designed to hold 96 inmates, and as of 2002, held 147.

The St. John's City Lockup is the temporary detention centre for those awaiting appearance before the courts (transferred to the lockup from HMP for appearances and held there until transferred back at the end of the day), or who are detained under the Mental Health or Detention of Intoxicated Persons Acts (those locked up in the "drunk tank") - all of which are short-term detentions. It is in the basement of the Supreme Court of Newfoundland, which was built in 1901. The lockup has been operating from there since 1981. The City Youth Lockup was built recently (in 2004), and is adjacent to police headquarters in Fort Townshend. It serves the same function as the City Lockup, but for those under 18 years of age.

West Coast Correctional Institution

West Coast Correctional Institution in Stephenville is a medium/minimum security facility for males, and was built in 1978.Newfoundland and Labrador Correctional Centre for Women is in Clarenville and opened in 1982. It houses all provincially-sentenced female offenders, as well as low-risk female offenders sentenced to federal time, and those awaiting transfer to the federal women's facility in Nova Scotia.

Bishop's Falls

Bishop's Falls Correctional Facility in Bishop's Falls is a minimum security male
facility, opened 1983.

The Labrador Correctional Facility

The Labrador Correctional Facility in Happy Valley, Labrador is a minimum/medium security facility primarily for aboriginal inmates (Inuit and Innu), opened 1984. Due to the insignificant gang presence in the general population, that there are few if any
gangs operating in these provincial institutions. Gang members arrested in Newfoundland are largely members from the Hells Angels out of Quebec, involved in drug trafficking into the province. Many of those convicted are sentenced to federal time, which is served in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick.

The provincial and federal governments have long promised a new federal prison would be built in Newfoundland (the proposed site was Harbour Grace, 45 minutes from St. John's), which would also replace the aging Penitentiary in St. John's. It was promised by the federal government in 1988 and slated to be opened by 1993, but no construction was ever begun. As noted on the site, there is no death penalty in Canada, and consequently no death row. Until the abolishment of the death penalty in 1976, hangings were conducted at HMP in St. John's, the last one occurring in 1948.

For more information on Newfoundland's provincial correctional institutions visit: http://www.justice.gov.nl.ca/just/publicpr/instsrv.htm

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