Melvin Jr. alleges system out to get him
On remand 2½ years, prisoner claims most of that was in isolation
A Halifax man who has been remanded in provincial prison system for more than two years says he no longer has any faith in the criminal justice system.
James Bernard Melvin Jr., 35, told Pictou provincial court Thursday that he once respected the justice system but now, after living most of the last 2½ years on remand and in isolation, he feels it’s out to get him rather than help him.
“There are a lot of weird things going on in the justice system,” he said. “I thought the place was to be respected, but I don’t feel that now.”
Melvin was testifying as part of a hearing to determine if he should be sent for a mental health assessment in relation to charges of assaulting peace officers in December 2016 at the North East Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Priestville. The assessment would determine whether he was criminally responsible at the time of the alleged incident and if he is fit to stand trial regarding mental health issues.
Melvin said he has been referred for three psychiatric assessments in the past to the East Coast Forensic Hospital but he alleges transportation issues within the corrections department have kept him from going.
His lawyer, Doug Lloy, confirmed his client has brief assessments done at the Central Nova Correctional Facility which determined he was criminally responsible and mentally fit to face charges in court.
However, he said, the assessments were not done at the hospital, but rather the prison, and were brief. Lloy said based on Melvin’s testimony Thursday, it is evident his client is under significant mental stress.
Melvin told the court he has transferred to a new prison about every 30 days which makes up to about 75 moves in the last 2 ½ years.
He claims most of his time he has been living in isolation in a six- by eight-foot cell and alleges he has been denied everything from religious reading material to his own disclosure information from his cases.
Melvin said he knows he is a familiar name in the justice system. He has been remanded in the past before this most recent time in custody.
He said he doesn’t trust correction officers, claiming he has had sexual relations with some in the past, both in and out of the prison. He alleged that some of these female officers he had relations with are now in management positions and he believes they are responsible for his current transfers and denial of his prisoner rights.
Melvin was recently found not guilty on a first-degree murder charge in relation to the death of Terry Marriott Jr. He is now set for a jury trial this coming week on attempting to commit murder.
In regard to the alleged incidents on Dec. 5, 2016, at the North East Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, Melvin said he is unable to recall the events of the day.
“I have been transferred so many times. What happened that time?” he asked his lawyer. He alleges he had many bad days in the past and mental health services at the Priestville facility are inadequate.
Recently, he said, he was transferred to a correctional facility in Cape Breton where he was not in isolation but rather a large, dormitory-style room with 20 other men and there were no issues with the staff or fellow inmates.
“There are no walls. I could have walked over and jumped on any of these men in the middle of the night. For them to house me in different places for two and a half years and say that I am this and that, and then take me to Sydney with open walls for kicks and giggles for a bunch of old broads trying to get their jollies off.”
Pictou provincial court judge Del Atwood has reserved decision until Monday as to whether Melvin should be sent for a mental health assessment. If the assessment is not granted, Lloy will be expected to enter an election on the indictable charges on his client’s behalf.