London police have confirmed the death of an inmate at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC).
Officers say the inmate was male but weren’t able to provide further details about his age or name.
Officials told 980 CFPL the inmate died at the Exeter Road facility on the afternoon of Sunday, March 31.
Officers haven’t said whether the death at the troubled jail is being treated as suspicious, but have confirmed they’re assisting with the coroner’s investigation.
In a statement, Elgin-Middlesex-London Tory MPP, Jeff Yurek, said his thoughts and prayers were with the family members of the deceased and all who were impacted by the death.
“I have been in contact and will continue to work with the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services to ensure the safety of correctional officers, staff, and inmates at EMDC,” Yurek’s statement read. “This has always been and will continue to be a priority to me as the MPP of Elgin-Middlesex-London.
“It’s heartbreaking for the family, for the other inmates who watch someone that they’re living with die in front of them, for the correctional officers who witness it,” said lawyer Kevin Egan of McKenzie Lake.
“I think it’s a sad comment on society as a whole that we are leaving people out there to die or to encounter other fates, when we should be running an institution that helps rehabilitate and reintegrate people.
Egan is representing hundreds of EMDC inmates in a class-action lawsuit against the province over conditions at the jail. He’s also representing several inmates who have filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit against the Ontario government, alleging psychological trauma from having witnessed the 2013 murder of Adam Kargus while locked in their cells.
There have long been concerns regarding the safety of inmates and staff as well as overcrowding at EMDC.
At least four inquests have recommended that surveillance cameras installed at the facility be monitored in real-time, something the province continues to drag its heels on, Egan said.
“The government refuses to do that,” he said.
“In response to the Jamie High inquest, the province said the cameras were better suited for finding out what happened after the fact, which is just an astounding answer.”
Egan says some deaths, some dating back to 2015, have yet to even see inquests called. “The bereaved families of those individuals are still waiting for answers about the circumstances of their loved ones’ death, almost four years later.”
— With files from Matthew Trevithick