Newfoundland and Labrador
Reference Library – Canada – Newfoundland and Labrador
An inmate who was beaten and stabbed in a targeted jailhouse riot three years ago is suing the Newfoundland and Labrador government over the attack, and will ask the court to shut down Her Majesty’s Penitentiary. A statement of claim filed last February alleges the province was negligent in the attack at the prison’s chapel in St. John’s.
“We’ve also alleged the government has been negligent to allow prisoners to remain in HMP because it’s old and decrepit and filthy, and the heat is 40 degrees in the summertime,” Lynn Moore, Green’s lawyer, said in an interview with CBC News.
“It’s really not fit for human habitation and probably not fit for animals, either.”
Green was attacked by other inmates on Feb. 9, 2014. He was stabbed with homemade knives, beaten and speared in the head with a church pew. But the province says it wasn’t negligent because Green was notified of the threat in advance, and attended the Sunday service anyway.
In its statement of defence, the province said it also added extra staff that day albeit on a different floor than where the riot occurred.
Asking for HMP to close
In the past, the attack has been linked to retribution for the death of Joey Whalen. Green was convicted of manslaughter in relation to Whalen’s death after an incident on Tessier Place in St. John’s in March 2013. Video surveillance from the day of the 2014 riot showed dozens of inmates filling into the prison’s chapel, where a lone correctional officer was stationed along with members of the Salvation Army clergy.
“It’s really not fit for human habitation and probably not fit for animals, either.” – Lawyer Lynn Moore
This fall, Moore will attempt to amend the original lawsuit against the government. She’ll ask “that the court order that the prison close because the prison violates the Charter rights of my client because it failed to provide him with security of the person.”
Lynn Moore is representing Kenny Green in his lawsuit against the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)
Prior to the attack, Green had been kept in solitary confinement also called the special handling unit for months, over concerns for his safety. When visitors came, the entire room had to be cleared to avoid an attack, Moore said. She added it “defies logic” that prison officials would allow him to attend a service where a specific threat had been made.
“The fact that they knew and allowed him to make this choice I think is a very difficult one to understand,” Moore said.
“They didn’t tell the clergy that were there in the chapel, they didn’t tell the frontline staff, and a lot of people were hurt.”
Convicted killer Kenny Green was beaten and stabbed by a handful of inmates during a riot in February 2014. (CBC)
Parts of the penitentiary date back to the mid-19th century. As of early May, HMP was at capacity, with 173 inmates. Inmates at HMP are serving provincial terms up to two years less a day. The facility also holds those awaiting court proceedings. Some women are also housed there, because the Correctional Centre for Women in Clarenville is also at capacity.
Green knew attack was coming
In a statement of defence filed in March 2016, the province pointed out that prison officials did warn Green a threat had been made against him. Two days before the attack, a captain at HMP received intel that “it would be in everyone’s best interest if KG did not attend church this Sunday. Inmates on Living Unit 3 would not like this.”
Officials passed the threat along to Green, but he seemed “unconcerned by this information and proceeded to attend the chapel service,” the statement of defence said.
HMP riot video WARNING: VIOLENT CONTENT1:49
“By attending the service the plaintiff encouraged and indeed invited the attack to happen,” it reads.
“In doing so he was voluntarily assuming and accepting the risk of the injuries he allegedly suffered by ignoring the warning clearly communicated to him by staff.”
‘Between a rock and a hard place’
However, Moore said her client was stuck “between a rock and a hard place.”
His only options, she said, were to return to the special handling unit, or stay away from the chapel.
“He spent several months in solitary for his own protection and he was having trouble with that,” Moore said. If Green stayed away from chapel that day, Moore said that would have shown the attackers he was afraid.
Moore said it was better for Green to know when and where the attack would happen rather than being jumped when he least expected it.
“He knew that the attackers weren’t going to say, ‘Oh he didn’t show up today we are going to give up and walk away.’ He knew he would then face an attack where he was not forewarned. So he decided to go and deal with the threat he knew about, and more importantly the threat the government knew about.”
Parts of Her Majesty’s Penitentiary date back to the mid-1800s and are in desperate need of repair. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)
The province, meanwhile, denied claims it didn’t provide supervision and protection to Green, noting that extra staff were stationed on a floor below.
“While not physically located in the chapel, extra staff were on guard just below the chapel and attended the scene within seconds of the attack occuring,” the government’s statement of defence said.
Past allegations from guards over riot
This is not the first time a finger has been pointed at the province over its handling of the potentially deadly riot. Three correctional officers alleged in documents to the Office of the Citizen’s Representative that the riot was allowed to happen by management as a way to relieve pressure cooking inside the jail. CBC News obtained a copy of the resulting report from November 2016. The citizens’ representative was unable to conclude it was an intentional act by management, but raised issues with how the matter was dealt with in the days leading up to the assault.
Correctional officials vehemently denied it was an intentional act, and noted changes had been made in the wake of the attack. While the lawsuit is against the province, Moore said the federal government has a part to play. HMP also houses some federal inmates.
“We need federal money for a new penitentiary,” she said.
“It’s just not fit and it’s just not fair. Not just for the prisoners but for the correctional officers because they have to work there every day.”
The matter will be back in court in September. Green is seeking unspecified damages.
The Department of Justice and Public Safety declined comment, noting that the matter is before the courts.
A 19-year-old man has been charged with impersonating a peace officer, after a couple reported a bizarre traffic stop to police in Springdale. RCMP said the couple reported they had been pulled over by an unmarked police car, with flashing lights, while driving near Baie Verte Junction on Tuesday. The man identified himself as a representative of a provincial security company and showed a false I.D. with a Newfoundland and Labrador logo, according to police.
RCMP said the man then asked the driver of the stopped car for his licence and vehicle registration and offered to let the couple go without a ticket for speeding because the registration was valid. The couple then continued driving, but the incident raised a red flag so they called RCMP. Police identified the suspect and arrested him at a home in Grand Falls-Windsor Wednesday afternoon.
Anyone who may have had a similar experience with a traffic stop is asked to contact Springdale RCMP or Crime Stoppers.
The students somehow gained access to the closed meeting through a side door, interrupting a meeting between the board and members of student leadership groups. A handful of MUN security guards ushered members of the board from the junior common room and into an adjoining room. Security’s attempts to contain the students to the junior common room were unsuccessful allowing the group to take over the lobby area where they continued the protest, banging on the walls and chanting loudly.