Hines family issues response to report
‘We are extremely grateful for the thorough and detailed investigation’
The family of Matthew Hines issued a response Tuesday, through their lawyer, regarding a report by the Office of the Correctional Investigator into the death of the 33-year-old while in Dorchester Penitentiary. The following is an edited version of that statement.
“When the Hon. Ralph Goodale, minister of public safety, made a public statement last year that Canadians deserved answers about Matthew’s death, our lawyer wrote the minister to let him know we were taking him at his word. The clear apology to our family, and most especially to our parents, that is contained in the government response to the special report tabled in Parliament (Tuesday) is extremely important to us.
Matthew struggled with mental health issues from the time he was an adolescent. There were few resources for youth and young adults with mental health issues in Cape Breton and Matthew often found himself in trouble with the law.
In April 2015 Matthew was living in the community on parole and when his mental health was obviously deteriorating, we were told that he would get the help he needed if he returned to Dorchester Penitentiary. We believed that to be true. It was not.
Matthew was distraught at being sent back to the Dorchester Penitentiary and his last words to his sister Wendy were: “Don’t let them kill me.”
We were told that Matthew died of a seizure. We were told that Matthew was a nice man who was “loved” by the correctional staff and that they were very sorry for his death.
Over a year later, we found out that Matthew died as a direct result of inexplicable and unnecessary physical and chemical force used by the correctional staff who were responsible for his care, and that this was captured in graphic detail on video.
Why did no one prevent this from happening to him?
We are a large family of hard-working citizens who believe in this country and its institutions. We believe this because our parents raised us that way. The fact that our parents were not told the truth by their government about the circumstances that surrounded Matthew’s death is, to us, unforgiveable.
We are extremely grateful for the thorough and detailed investigation conducted by the Office of the Correctional Investigator. The commitment that they have shown in the investigation of Matthew’s death has given us hope that no one else will suffer as Matthew did.
Mr. (Ivan) Zinger travelled with his staff to Sydney to meet with us personally to explain his findings. The compassion and respect shown to us by Mr. Zinger and his staff, in our own home, will not be forgotten.
We now await the conclusion of the renewed RCMP investigation into Matthew’s death, which was reopened and transferred to Nova Scotia in the fall of 2016.
It is very important to us that Canadians understand Matthew’s story and understand the truth of what happened to him. No human being who is in prison should be physically and chemically abused by guards as Matthew was. And no human being should ever be ignored by medical personnel when they are in medical distress.
The fact that Matthew was treated with such indignity breaks our heart. We know that Matthew, for all of his struggles, would never have treated another human being that way.”
This file photo shows Matthew Hines’ sisters, Wendy Gillis and Helen MacLeod. The family says its grateful for the effort put in on the case by the Office of the Correctional Investigator .