Pubdate: Wed, 12 Nov 2014
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Hamilton Spectator
Author: Molly Hayes


Recommendations aimed at easing the problem of inmate addictions in
Ontario's jails

The jury has spoken - it's now up to the government to decide whether
to adopt recommendations aimed at tackling addictions in Ontario jails
to prevent inmate deaths.

The 17 recommendations, the result of a two-week inquest into the
death of Brantford Jail inmate Robert Clause, are non-binding, which
means all or none of them could be implemented.

But with another inquest on the horizon into four drug-related deaths
at Hamilton's Barton jail the past two years - and another death in
the Brantford Jail in recent weeks - it's clear that change is needed.

While the majority of these systemic recommendations are for the
Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (which runs
provincial jails), there are also suggestions for change within the
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and the Brantford Police Service.

Here is the full list, abridged for space. The bracketed notes have
been added by us, for context:

For the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services:

1. In the next year, establish a working group and a strategic plan to
reduce the amount of drugs in the jails - explore measures such as
harm reduction strategies and using screening methods like X-rays or
body scanners to detect drugs.

(Barton guards said earlier this year that their detection methods
leave them powerless at stopping drugs from entering the jail. Cavity
searches are not permitted, and the metal detectors they use do not
detect drugs or plastic.)

2. Establish a second working group to enhance awareness around drug
possession, use, intoxication and overdose. Develop a policy that
would help correctional officers recognize the potential for high-risk
situations and take action as soon as an inmate is suspected of having
or ingesting drugs.

3. Identify ways to address the specific drug problems of each Ontario
jail - which could include improved communication with local police,
infrastructural changes to prevent drugs from getting in and
circulating, and addressing the (often addiction-related) challenges
of intermittent inmates such as housing.

(Of the 3,717 inmates to cycle through the Barton Street jail last
year, a fifth of them were repeat offenders. And almost half had a
recorded addiction "alert" by corrections officers, the ministry reported.)

4. Provide annual training for correctional officers around drug
addiction, drug use, intoxication and overdoses - including the proper
protocols for checking and monitoring an inmate's condition and for
the proper use of Narcan, an opioid antidote.

5. Have a better response protocol for inmates who report breathing
problems, request the use of an inhaler (as Clause had done the day
before his death), or are seen lying on the floor to get relief for
breathing problems.

6. Improve communication between guards during shift changes to ensure
any required medical attention or enhanced supervision is carried over

(When Barton inmate Marty Tykoliz, 28, was taken to hospital to be
treated for an overdose, he was discharged mere hours later - and
then, alone in his cell suffering from withdrawal symptoms, he
overdosed again - this time fatally.)

7. Use Clause's death as a case study in the training program for
guards in hopes of better recognizing and handling the health risks
faced by impaired inmates.

8. Within a year, develop a communication plan to better inform
inmates of the risks of drug possession and use, the substance abuse
programs available to them in custody, the signs and symptoms of
overdose and when to ask for help.

9. Improve intake and followup protocols for inmates with addiction,
which could include tracking addiction history, program participation
and/or drug related incidents while in jail, and discharge planning.

10. Develop a policy to inform guards and supervisors of the results
of an inmate's "dry-cell" process. (This is done when an inmate
suspected of carrying drugs is kept in a cell with no running water,
so that anything passed with waste can be detected by guards.)

11. Explore the feasibility of having 24-hour, on-site nursing staff
or on-call nursing consultation for each jail.

12. Within a year, review the monitoring procedures for "dry-celling"
and assess the feasibility of having video surveillance equipment in
all jails.

13. Within a year, establish a working group to explore and develop
training policies around the use of urine testing - not for the
purpose of laying charges but as a safety and security tool.

For the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care:

14. Within a year, establish a working group to explore the potential
for paramedics to administer Narcan without a doctor's direction.

15. Within a year, develop guidelines for Ontario hospitals for what
to do when inmates are suspected of concealing drugs or other
contraband inside their body.

For Brantford police:

16. Within a year, create a policy for people in police custody
suspected of ingesting or carrying illicit drugs.

17. Develop a mandatory communication protocol for sharing information
about people suspected of concealing drugs in body cavities with
admission and discharge staff at the jails.
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