About five years ago I entertained the idea of writing a book about Her Majesty’s Penitentiary in St. John’s. At that time, I had about 24 years on the job as a Correctional Officer.
I remember my first day of work when I reported to Mr. Aubery Dawe. Mr Dawe was in charge of the storeroom and he was the person who outfitted me with my first uniform. I also remember the week before when I said to my mother, “I’m going to the Pen.”
I should have been a little more specific in my choice of words. My mother was in the kitchen at the time and she stopped what she was doing and stared at me with a blank look in her eyes. I quickly realized what I had said and in the same breath said, “I’m going to work at the Pen.”(Book excerpt)
In “Behind The Walls: A history of Her Majesty’s Penitentiary.” David Harvey offers readers a detailed and up close look at a structure in St. John’s that is more than 150 years old. The Pen, which is located on Forest Road on the south bank of Quidi Vidi Lake, was first occupied on August 24, 1859, at which time it was still incomplete. Today, the still functioning Pen is the only medium/maximum security institution in the province. It also accommodates Federal prisoners, both those remaining in the province and those awaiting transfer to other Federal institutions.