June 24, 2019 11:09 am

Another inmate has died at Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre

The Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre on Exeter Road in London, Ont.

Andrew Graham / 980 CFPL

Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is confirming that an inmate died at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre over the weekend.

Greg Flood, a spokesperson for the ministry, said the inmate was found unresponsive in his cell on Saturday.

“Staff responded immediately performing first aid and calling paramedics, and the inmate was transported to hospital by ambulance where he was pronounced deceased.”

It’s the second time an inmate has died at EMDC in 2019, and the 15th death since 2009.

Lawyer Kevin Egan, who represents EMDC inmates involved in a lawsuit about conditions at the jail, tells 980 CFPL if the government cared about the people in their care, they would have done something by now.

“When you hear that year after year, and death after death, you reach a point, and I’m at that point, I no longer believe they care,” said Egan, who adds that EMDC sees a wide range of inmates with varying severity of crimes.

He says it’s not uncommon for all these inmates to be looped in together.

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“Many of the people who have died there are in for minor crimes, or haven’t had a trial or even a bail hearing, and they come out in a body bag,” said Egan, who stresses that these tragedies have a lasting impact.

“You can’t just think of the 15 families, because there are other inmates who witness someone dying right in front of them, and they get no assistance with the shock they must encounter in seeing someone die in that way. It’s supposed to be a rehabilitative centre.”

READ MORE: Conditions at EMDC ‘among the worst’ in Ontario: human rights commissioner

Egan questions the facility’s ability to help an inmate on their path to recovery.

“I just don’t understand how the government can continue to masquerade that this is some facility where people can quietly reflect and rehabilitate themselves.”

Egan points to a recent visit from the human rights commission on how conditions at the facility are among the worst in the province.

In a scathing letter to Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, Renu Mandhane writes the facility falls “well short” of the principles outlined in the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as the Mandela Rules.

The letter from Mandhane, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), was sent to the province’s solicitor general in May.

READ MORE: 2 arrested, 2 at large after home invasion-style robbery: London police

In the statement to 980 CFPL on Monday, Flood says a number of investigations will take place following the latest death of a provincial inmate.

Flood says if the coroner’s investigation determines that a death was not a result of natural causes, a mandatory inquest would be called to examine the circumstances.

The local police will also conduct an investigation to determine if the death was due to any criminal activity.

Flood says as the investigations are currently underway, it is not appropriate for the ministry to publicly comment further at this time.

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