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Plan to replace Newfoundland’s crumbling, 164-year-old jail delayed by high costs

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The Newfoundland and Labrador government says high costs of labour and construction materials have stalled its plans to replace Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, a notoriously harsh and decrepit jail in St. John’s.

John Abbott, minister of transportation and infrastructure, says officials had to revisit their original plans for a new facility and make cost-cutting measures, including a reduction in the square footage of the new jail.

The province had originally issued a request for proposals for a new facility in 2021, with construction hoped to begin this year and completed in 2026.

Abbot told reporters he now hopes construction will begin in 2025.

Her Majesty’s Penitentiary first opened in 1859 and has well-documented problems with rodent and mould infestations, sweltering summer temperatures and crumbling infrastructure.

Cindy Murphy, executive director of the John Howard Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, says conditions at the penitentiary are “disgraceful” and that she is extremely disappointed by the delay in replacing it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 20, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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