Calvin Kenny knows he likely won’t get much sympathy for what he calls mistreatment at Newfoundland and Labrador’s largest men’s jail.
Kenny, 26, of Fermeuse, on Newfoundland’s Southern Shore, will soon be sentenced to federal prison time for killing a man in Conception Bay South last year. But before he’s sent away, he has a lot to say about Her Majesty’s Penitentiary.
“Most of the people won’t want to hear a word that comes out of my mouth and I understand that,” Kenny said in an interview with CBC News this month.
Kenny spoke in a small room inside HMP that, on this particular day, was humid and hot. Sweat beaded on his forehead as two correctional officers looked on while he laid out his claims.
“But they got to realize that most of the inmates are going to be released back into the public and in this prison, they’re going to be released far worse off than when they went in.”
Kenny is alleging that he has been kept in the special handling unit (SHU) for long periods of time without officials giving him a reason — a situation Kenny claims doesn’t happen at federal institutions.
“I was locked in the SHU — locked in my cell in the SHU — for 20 to 22 hours a day for four months straight,” he said.
The SHU — or ‘the Hole,’ as it’s unaffectionately known — is a section of the prison that houses inmates who are deemed a risk to themselves or others.
Critics say it’s a place where people are often forgotten, and can be toxic to anyone who lands there.
SHU houses mentally ill inmates: Kenny
According to Kenny, he often shared the space with mentally ill inmates who were unaware of what was happening around them.
“They don’t understand how to clean themselves, they don’t understand how to ask for help and they don’t understand if what’s being done to them is right or wrong,” Kenny said.
“You can’t put a social animal in a box with lights on them 24/7 and expect something good to come from it.”
– Mark Gruchy
One inmate who Kenny said has “severe mental health issues” was put in a suicide gown (a tear-resistant smock) in order to be placed in a cell with a suicidal inmate to make more room, he claimed.
The mentally ill inmate, Kenny said, was not suicidal but was not in his…