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Justice Minister Jerome Kennedy met this week with federal government officials about building a new penitentiary in Newfoundland and Labrador. ((CBC))

Newfoundland and Labrador's justice minister has made a case for federal help in building a new prison.

"It is incumbent upon the federal government to play a significant role in the funding of a new penitentiary," Justice Minister Jerome Kennedy said in a statement, concluding a three-day visit to Ottawa.

Kennedy met Thursday with Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and outlined a case for a cost-shared institution that would replace the aging Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's.

Newfoundland and Labrador does not have a federal prison, although HMP does house prisoners serving sentences of two years or longer, who are usually sent to federal institutions.

"As a province without a federal penitentiary, Newfoundland and Labrador is in a unique position, as it may elect to house federally sentenced inmates within a provincial facility," Kennedy said.

Corrections workers and mental health activists have decried conditions at HMP, which is chronically overcrowded and has antiquated facilities. Parts of the institution date to 1859.

The province believes that building a new institution — a location for which has not been selected — will cost between $100 million and $150 million.

Kennedy said the federal government will be asked to cover 70 per cent of the costs.

Kennedy said he will be sending Day a formal proposal for a new penitentiary soon.

Earlier this year, federal cabinet representative Loyola Hearn said he would support federal involvement in a new penitentiary.