HMP riot video fuels Opposition call for whistleblower laws
A video of a destroyed cell block at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's fuelled debate in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, with both Opposition parties calling for implementation of whistleblower legislation.
The video, one of two that were posted anonymously last week on YouTube, showcases the extent of the damage caused by inmates who were involved in the melee last August. The other video depicts the lead-up to the brawl.
The inmates took control of the cell block and threatened to kill hostages and prison guards.
NDP Justice Critic Gerry Rogers has called on the provincial government to bring in whistleblower legislation to cover incidents like the penitentiary riot.
Rogers told the legislature Wednesday that a corrections employee was the source.
"The fact that a staff member actually posted the video of a riot scene shows how desperate the situation is there," said Rogers."How desperate staff are for this government to do something about it — and how desperately we need whistleblower protection."
Meanwhile, Liberal Justice Critic Jim Bennett said if a government employee leaked the video, that person should be protected by whistleblower legislation.
"Somebody went above and beyond what many people would do. They risked something, they risked either their safety or security," Bennett said.
"We don't really know who did it, but we should be grateful to someone like that. Whistleblower legislation would go a long way to help that."
Prison damage estimated at nearly $100K
Six inmates were charged in the riot. All were initially accused of hostage taking, damaging property over $5,000, being disguised, and interfering with the lawful use of property. Four have pleaded guilty to property offences.
Julian Squires also pleaded guilty to the hostage taking and was sentenced to 18 months last week.
Adam Hayden and Justin Wiseman are still facing all the charges.
Officials estimate the damage caused to the penitentiary is nearly $100,000.
The Newfoundland and Labrador government has said it will introduce whistleblower legislation within the next week or so.