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May 6, 2010

The following statement was given today in the House of Assembly by the Honourable Felix Collins, Minister of Justice and Attorney General:

Justice Project Provides Enhanced Mental Health Programming to Offenders

As recognized on Monday by my colleague the Honourable Minister of Health and Community Services, May 3-9 is Mental Health Week 2010. In recognition, I wish to provide information on the Canadian Mental Health Association – Newfoundland and Labrador (CMHA-NL) Justice Project.

In continuing with our response to the independent review of adult corrections, Decades of Darkness: Moving Towards the Light, the Department of Justice, in partnership with Health and Community Services and the Canadian Mental Health Association – Newfoundland and Labrador, last year established the Justice Project to improve mental health services at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP).

As highlighted by the independent review, many inmates of this facility face complex mental health issues. In response, we are now providing psychological services at all our correctional facilities and also have CMHA’s exciting new endeavor – the Justice Project.

Administered by the Department of Justice, the Justice Project receives $220,000 each year from my department and the Department of Health and Community Services to deliver in-service mental health programming to inmates at HMP. The Justice Project delivers counseling and support to inmates along with transitional planning and intensive case management upon release for transition back into the community.

Our goal is to reduce recidivism by creating more opportunities for programming and rehabilitation, especially for those afflicted with mental illness. Far too often in the past inmates diagnosed with mental illness re-entered the community with minimal supports. These high need individuals often found themselves back behind prison walls continuing the cycle of incarceration.

To successfully reintegrate into the community, ongoing counseling and support is critical for inmates suffering mental illness and already this program has proven to be successful. In keeping with recommendations of the independent review to avail of community groups’ expertise, the Justice Project has developed effective professional partnerships to deliver this innovative and groundbreaking program.

The Justice Project has recently hired two case managers and has already received 24 referrals. The Justice Project is innovative and groundbreaking and already other jurisdictions across the country have expressed interest and wish to learn more from our experience.

The Canadian Mental Health Association – Newfoundland and Labrador is a strong partner and we are pleased to work with them and the Department of Health and Community Services to provide improved mental health programming for those in our custody. This relationship is a clear indication that change is possible and our corrections service is moving in the appropriate direction.

2010 05 06                                                  2:55 p.m.

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