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Coroner’s jury in Saskatchewan recommends letting prison guards call 911

Curtis Cozart was found hanging in his cell in 2017 at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary and died the next day in hospital. File / Global News

A coroner’s jury reviewing the case of an inmate who killed himself at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary is recommending that corrections officers be allowed to call 911 when they see fit.

Curtis Cozart, 30, was found hanging in his cell in 2017 at the federal prison in Prince Albert and died the next day in hospital.

The jury heard there was a delay in calling 911 because, under current policy, corrections officers are required to contact a supervisor first.

The jury recommends all officers have the ability to call 911 if they deem a situation requires it.

It also recommends all officers be required to carry a cutting tool after evening lockup.

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The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) said it takes the death of an inmate very seriously and conducted its own review of what happened to Cozart.

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“BOIs (Board of Investigations) allow the CSC to examine circumstances of incidents and to present findings and recommendations that may prevent similar occurrences in the future,” Christina Tricomi, a CSC spokeswoman said in an email.

“Any actions that address any areas of concern are considered and implemented accordingly.”

She did not comment on the jury’s specific recommendations.

The inquest heard the tool had to be retrieved from another location in the unit before Cozart could be cut down from the ligature he used.

Psychologist Robert McIntyre testified he first saw Cozart in late 2016 and early 2017 for panic attacks and anxiety.

At the time, McIntyre said Cozart made no mention of thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Click to play video: 'Alleged killer considered slain Saskatchewan Penitentiary cellmate ‘family’'
Alleged killer considered slain Saskatchewan Penitentiary cellmate ‘family’

However, the inquest also heard an earlier 2016 court report, which McIntyre had not seen, that noted Cozart did have some history of suicide attempts in recent years.

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The three-day inquest heard from a total of 13 witnesses.

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