Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Federal Study on Deaths in Custody Released

Earlier today, the Correctional Investigator of Canada Howard Sapers released a study into 82 deaths of inmates in federal prisons from 2001 to 2005.

The cases all involve deaths not from natural causes, including murders, suicides and accidents.

Mr. Sapers' role is that of an independent ombudsman for prisoners in the federal prison system.

In the report, Sapers states that many of the deaths could have been prevented by better risk assessments and preventive measures, as well as more timely responses by Correctional Service personnel.

Among the findings:

  • the federal prison system continues to ignore and fail to act on recommendation after recommendation in coroners' and medical examiners' reports into earlier deaths
  • staff frequently fail or refuse to perform first aid
  • there is a lack of emergency equipment such as defibrillators in some facilities
  • information about the risk of suicide or violence often remains unreported

The government has promised to address many of Sapers' findings and to work closely with him.

As Sapers writes:

"The Correctional Service has indicated a willingness to address many of the Deaths in Custody Study’s findings. The Office of the Correctional Investigator is now working with the Correctional Service in an attempt to ensure that existing procedures and requirements are adhered to. While the Correctional Investigator characterized CSC’s response to the study’s findings as 'encouraging', citing the Correctional Service’s commitments to improving the timeliness of its investigation process, enhancing mental health services and better responsiveness to incidents – he also noted his Office would be monitoring the actions of CSC for tangible signs of real progress in the coming months".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:30 pm


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