Staff at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's are anxious about their safety in the wake of a violent attack on an accused killer, with their union asking that their concerns be taken more seriously.
Kenny Green, who is awaiting trial on a second-degree murder trial in the death of Joey Whalen, was jumped at a chapel at HMP on Sunday afternoon. He was treated for injuries and is back in cells.
Sources at the Pen say senior management was aware that a specific threat existed against Green, who was charged after Whalen was found near death in a suspected drug house on Tessier Place in downtown St. John's last March.
Only one correctional officer was in the chapel at the time of the attack, where a paper towel had been put over the security camera. The placement of the towel, which later fell, tipped off staff that something was happening.
"We should think ourself extremely luck Sunday night that we didn't have people going to a different place than the hospital," said Bert Blundon, secretary-treasurer of the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private Employees.
NAPE is not commenting on the details of the incident, but staff are clearly concerned.
A source tells CBC that the clergy "never got to open a prayer book" before the attack began, and that management "put a lot of people's lives at risk that day" by not increasing security based on what they knew. The source described what happened as "an attempted murder."
Blundon said correctional officers do not feel that their concerns are being heeded.
"Why the Department of Justice want to downplay an event that happened, instead of acknowledging that this was an extreme situation that could have resulted in death, is beyond us," he said in an interview.
Justice Minister Darin King was not available Thursday for an interview.