Pubdate: Wed, 13 Aug 2014
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Windsor Star
Author: Trevor Wilhelm
Page: A3


Inquest Told ' Weekenders' Asked for Help

A coroner's inquest heard Tuesday that drug smuggling was so 
pervasive at Windsor Jail that "weekender" inmates being pressured to 
do it have turned to corrections officers to help them out of a jam.

Others who were released would breach probation and court conditions 
to get tossed back in jail so they could bring drugs with them.

"I have had an inmate come to me and say 'Jay, they want me to bring 
drugs in, can you put me somewhere else this weekend?'" said 
corrections officer Jason Unger.

He was among several corrections officers and nurses to testify 
Tuesday during day two of a week-long inquest into the death of 
Kendra Blackbird. The 34-year-old inmate died of a drug overdose Oct. 
1, 2012, after she was found comatose in her cell at the old Windsor Jail.

The issue of intermittent inmates - who live in the community and 
serve their time on weekends - was a major theme of the first two 
days of testimony. Police and corrections officers have testified 
it's common knowledge that many so-called weekender inmates smuggled 
drugs into the jail.

It's believed the drugs that killed Blackbird were smuggled into the 
jail by an intermittent inmate who sealed them in Kinder Eggs then 
stuffed them into a body cavity.

"Intermittents are placed quite regularly with regular population 
inmates," said Unger, who was the jail's acting sergeant when Blackbird died.

He said that while the problem was well known, it was hard to keep 
weekender and general population inmates separated because the jail 
was often overcrowded.

"It's difficult to do," he said. "We're sometimes at the mercy of the 
courts. We could have five female intermittents come in. You have to 
put them somewhere."

The inquest previously heard that Blackbird had offered to take the 
intermittent inmate into her cell, even though it would then be 
overcrowded, because she likely knew the drugs were coming in. She 
then stayed up all night snorting pills she crushed with playing cards.

She went to sleep in her cell the next morning and hardly stirred all 
day. Correctional officers described a chaotic scene after Blackbird 
was found later that night unconscious with no pulse. Two officers 
pulled her out of her cell so there was more room to work on her.

A nurse and one of the officers did CPR with repeated sets of chest 
compressions on Blackbird as bloody mucus frothed out of her mouth. 
Officer Christopher Baker said he had so much of the woman's "frothy 
blood" on him that he had to go home and change after she was taken 
to hospital.

Robert Wilson, another corrections officer, said he tried to calm the 
other inmates down so his co-workers could concentrate on saving Blackbird.

"The females in the unit were screaming," said Wilson. "I was trying 
to calm the crowd so they could work on her."
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