An inmate from Bowden Institution died on Tuesday as an apparent result of complications related to COVID-19, the Correctional Service Canada said in a news release.
“The inmate’s next of kin have been notified of their death. The Correctional Service of Canada extends its condolences to the family,” the release said.
The death came as the prison along the QEII in central Alberta deals with a second COVID-19 outbreak that, as of Tuesday, has seen 36 positive cases among inmates. Of those, 23 have recovered and 12 people still have active infections.
That outbreak began on April 18 and so far, 4,175 tests have been processed. Current numbers for employees were not available, however as of April 28, 10 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19.
The prison’s previous outbreak was in January, and only saw two positive cases come from 754 tests.
Work to vaccinate inmates is underway. Beginning in mid-April, the CSC began offering the COVID-19 vaccine to the entire federal inmate population in 43 correctional institutions and 14 community correctional centres across Canada, after initially vaccinating approximately 600 older, medically vulnerable inmates in January.
The most recent vaccination clinics at Bowden Institution took place between April 22 and 28.
Prisoner deaths across Canada
Correctional Service of Canada said, as in all cases involving the death of an inmate, it has notified the medical examiner’s office, who will review the circumstances of the death.
CSC said it disclosed the death to provide transparency during the pandemic, however for privacy reasons the name of the inmate and whether they had comorbidities was not released.
This is the sixth death related to COVID-19 among federally sentenced inmates, the CSC said. The last death happened on Jan. 23, when a COVID-positive inmate from Willow Cree Healing Lodge (located north of Saskatoon, Sask.) died at a community hospital.
The fourth death happened on Jan. 8, when an inmate from the Saskatchewan Penitentiary in Prince Albert died at outside hospital.
The third death happened on Dec. 27, 2020, when Corrections Canada said an inmate from Stony Mountain Institution in Manitoba died in hospital from natural causes following a COVID-19 diagnosis.
The second and first deaths occurred more than a year ago. On May 3, 2020, an inmate from the Federal Training Centre — a multi-level unit in Laval, QC, died as an apparent result of complications related to COVID-19.
Canada’s first prisoner death happened on April 15, 2020, when an inmate from Mission Institution in B.C.’s lower mainland died at the Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
Drumheller Institution outbreak update
Another central Alberta prison also recently dealt with a large outbreak. Between mid-December 2020 and the end of April, 181 positive cases were confirmed at the Drumheller Institution.
No new cases have been detected at the medium security prison since April 26 and all the ill inmates are now recovered, but the outbreak won’t be considered over until 28 days after the last recovered date or as directed by public health.
If there are no new cases, Corrections Canada predicts the Drumheller outbreak will end on May 24.
The Bowden Institution is a medium-security facility with a minimum-security Annex, located about halfway between the communities of Innisfail and Bowden in central Alberta. The main prison houses about 500 inmates at any given time, and the annex has room for about 130 inmates.
Drumheller is a similar medium-security prison with a minimum-security annex, with an overall capacity of about 700 inmates.