In­mate’s fam­ily not sent let­ter of con­do­lence

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY+REGION - THIA JAMES tjames@post­

Cor­rec­tional Ser­vice Canada (CSC) says it did not send a for­mal let­ter to the fam­ily of Christo­pher Van Camp after he was killed at the Saskatchewan Pen­i­ten­tiary in June.

In emailed state­ments to the Saska­toon Star Phoenix, CSC spokes­woman Veronique Rioux said the fed­eral agency put a “process” in place as of Sept. 13 to en­sure that a let­ter is used to send con­do­lences to in­mates’ next of kin. A com­mis­sioner’s bul­letin dated Aug. 28 in­cluded a for­mal pol­icy for CSC staff han­dling funeral ar­range­ments, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and an in­mate’s fi­nances when the in­mate dies in cus­tody.

Van Camp, 37, was pro­nounced dead on June 7 after he was found un­re­spon­sive in his cell at the Prince Al­bert prison. Emer­gency re­spon­ders who were called to the prison were un­able to re­vive him. He had been serv­ing a sen­tence of five years, five months and 12 days for armed rob­bery, fraud, theft and break­ing and en­ter­ing.

He had been paroled in the spring, but sub­se­quently re­turned to cus­tody for a breach of con­di­tions stem­ming from an ac­ci­den­tal drug over­dose that left him in a coma for five days. Van Camp was back be­hind bars soon after he emerged from the coma.

His cell­mate, Tyler Van­de­wa­ter, faces a se­cond-de­gree mur­der charge in con­nec­tion with his death.

An in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion CSC launched on July 31 is ex­pected to be fi­nal­ized next month, but it ap­pears the CSC won’t au­to­mat­i­cally share the find­ings with Van Camp’s fam­ily — they’ll need to file a for­mal free­dom of in­for­ma­tion re­quest be­cause the re­port will con­tain third-party in­for­ma­tion.

“The next of kin will be pro­vided with in­for­ma­tion on how to ac­cess the in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port through CSC’s Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion and Pri­vacy,” Rioux wrote in an email.

“We are com­mit­ted to learn­ing all we can to en­sure that fu­ture deaths can be pre­vented,” she wrote.

The CSC won’t an­swer spe­cific ques­tions about the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing Van Camp’s death. Rioux said it would be “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” to com­ment about whether he was eval­u­ated and cleared by a prison health pro­fes­sional be­fore he was re­turned to the gen­eral prison pop­u­la­tion.

The CSC also won’t com­ment about the lit­i­ga­tion it cites as the rea­son why it won’t an­swer those ques­tions: a law­suit filed by Van Camp’s mother, Lau­ren Laith­waite.

Fed­eral in­mates are as­sessed by a nurse within 24 hours of ad­mis­sion to cus­tody, Rioux wrote. They are then listed to see a physi­cian based on need, and if there’s a need, the doc­tor will eval­u­ate them within 72 hours. In­mates also re­ceive men­tal health screen­ing within 24 hours of ad­mis­sion and their men­tal health sta­tus is eval­u­ated within two weeks, she wrote.

Ac­cord­ing to the CSC, three of the 62 “crit­i­cal and se­ri­ous” se­cu­rity in­ci­dents at all fed­eral in­sti­tu­tions this fis­cal year hap­pened at the Saskatchewan Pen­i­ten­tiary, which is home to 686 in­mates.

We are com­mit­ted to learn­ing all we can to en­sure that fu­ture deaths can be pre­vented.

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