Nfld. & Labrador

Extra peanut butter, bread and jam cut for N.L. inmates

Cutting back on bread at Her Majesty's Penitentiary is only adding "fuel to the fire," according to lawyer and advocate Mark Gruchy.

Justice department says inmates receive 3 meals a day, have access to canteen

A room at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's. (CBC)

Cutting back on bread at correctional facilities across the province is only adding "fuel to the fire," according to lawyer and advocate Mark Gruchy.

Gruchy, who is also president of the Newfoundland and Labrador NDP, said he has been told by inmates that the bread ration at Her Majesty's Penitentiary has been reduced between meals and that meal sizes have been also cut back.

The Department of Justice and Public Safety told CBC News on Wednesday that inmates receive three meals a day.

It said the only recent change had to do with the types of snacks being served between meals and that the change was made across all provincial correctional facilities. The change comes with a cost savings of $150,000. 

"It is not cost beneficial to do this; it has a potential serious negative and limited cost savings and it's simply not worth it," Gruchy said.

"This is a concern because the provision of food at Her Majesty's Penitentiary is a primary mechanism by which order is maintained."

Lawyer and advocate Mark Gruchy says cutting out bread from Her Majesty's Penitentiary could have negative consequences. (CBC)

Extra bread, peanut butter and jam have been cut, the department said. Inmate still receive cookies, tea and coffee.

Gruchy contends cutting back on food will increase tension to an already challenging situation at the Victorian-era jail.

HMP, which has parts dating back to the 19th century, has been plagued by violence, labour tensions and structural issues for decades.

Repeated calls for a new penitentiary have been long placed on the backburner as the province grapples with a crippling deficit.

"It's concerning because it's easy to take things away from the penitentiary because the average person doesn't understand just how difficult and delicate a human management system it is and it's easy to dismiss these things until something negative happens." 

In 2014, the provincial government chose Parkin Architects, a Canadian company with offices in Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver, for the design and location of a new prison.

However, any immediate plans for a replacement has been put off indefinitely.