Kelvin Parsons, Opposition Justice Critic and MHA for the District of Burgeo
- La Poile, says the Minister must release the report he received concerning
recent escapes at the Whitbourne Youth Facility. He is also looking for
clarification from the Minister about disturbing information concerning a
crack-down by Justice officials at the facility.
"I have already expressed
concerns about safety and security at the facility after four youths escaped
in a seven day period," said Parsons. "The Minister has received a report on
the incidents, but he has refused to release it for public scrutiny. It is
essential that the safety issues are addressed at this facility and the
Minister must release the report so that a full public discussion can take
place and action taken.
"When escapes occur, there are serious safety issues for the public and
the escapees. In the past, an escapee was found frozen to death, a near
drowning took place and forest fires started. There is a report that one of
the recent escapes resulted in an incident where a truck containing a rifle
was stolen and the escapees traveled the Trans Canada Highway at large. This
is a serious incident that must be addressed with decisive action by the
Minister and Justice officials."
The Liberal MHA is concerned with the impact of recent measures taken to
tighten security at the facility. "Reports indicate that officials have
ordered a number of extra-curricular activities be terminated due to
security concerns. For example, the farm facility that has been identified
as one of the best youth correctional models in the country has been
affected. I fear that as a result of preventable escapes, valuable
programming at the facility is being compromised.
"Rather than terminating programs or threatening staff positions, the
Minister must identify the source of these problems and correct them before
other serious safety issues are identified. A first step should be to
release the report the Minister has received and put in place a
comprehensive action plan to be implemented on an on-going basis."