Judge cuts inmate time due to harsh prison conditions in Newfoundland


A Newfoundland judge has reduced jail time for an inmate after ruling that “extreme conditions” inside the notorious St.

The written decision announced Wednesday from Superior Court Judge Glen Noel gave Jonathan Slade, 27, a six-month four-year prison sentence reduction for charges including robbery and violation of probation.

Noel said Slade experienced “unusual and increasingly incarcerated limitations, lack of program access, and no or limited time for exercise or recreation”, as a result of his We are incarcerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said Slade’s mental and physical health made him particularly vulnerable.

“While these measures are intended to protect prisoners from infection with COVID-19, their unintended consequence is a negative impact on the mental health, physical health and rehabilitation of prisoners. individuals, especially those who are pre-existingly susceptible, as well as Mr. Slade,” he wrote.

Slade is at His Majesty’s Penitentiary pending sentencing for charges including two robberies and two violations of probation, to which he pleaded guilty. He has been in custody since September 30, 2020.

Noel on June 30 sentenced him to 4 years in prison, minus 6 months for the “especially harsh pre-sentence detention conditions” he endured at the prison. He was also credited for the length of his stay, leaving him with only about 19 months to serve.

The oldest part of Her Majesty’s Penitentiary was built in 1865, and its dilapidated infrastructure has been highlighted in several reports investigating the dire condition inside. Noel’s decision included Slade’s entire description of the “invasion” of rodents inside the walls and ceilings of the facility.

Noel writes: “He describes that they run outdoors and are no longer afraid of humans, entering bed even when inhabited. “Inmates use a way of hanging their food from the ceiling while they sleep. Inmates encounter rodent droppings in their stored food and personal belongings.”

The judge said Slade suffered from a range of mental health issues, but pandemic-related health restrictions prevented access to many services. Noel said Slade saw a psychiatrist five times during his 20 months in prison.

The decision says Slade has also spent time living in seclusion, sometimes because he acted out of frustration and other times because he committed suicide.

“His outbursts were not always recognized as being related to mental health,” says Noel. “During these periods of isolation, whether medical or administrative, (Slade) described being locked in a cell for 22 hours a day, and he felt increasingly anxious and panicked. “

Slade also suffered from a physical disability and injury that left him with mobility problems and chronic pain, the judge wrote. His injury left him uncontrollable and he needed to use a protective bra.

Santa was held for a time in an older section of the prison, which did not have any common areas or areas for recreation, nor did they have enough privacy for them to use their underwear inconspicuously. , said Noel.

“He became the target of ridicule by other inmates, and even sometimes, prison guards,” the judge wrote. “I see this going to have a particularly profound effect on Mr Slade’s mental health struggles.”

Noel outlined several other trials in which inmates said they faced unusually harsh conditions at the Queen’s Penitentiary.

The provincial government has long promised to replace the prison, and officials said in November they had chosen a company to submit a proposal for a new 276-bed facility by the end of the year.

In an emailed statement Thursday, a Justice Department spokesman said the office is always reviewing its own regulatory policies as well as those from around the country.

“Having infrastructure issues is notoriously challenging,” Lesley Clarke said of the prison, adding that construction on the new facility is expected to begin next spring.

“Since the Public Health Emergency was declared on March 18, 2020, every effort has been made to prevent COVID-19 from entering our correctional facilities,” she said. me to keep prisoners and staff safe.

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