Death could have been pre­vented

In­mate who died had men­tal ca­pac­ity of a seven-year-old boy: fam­ily

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ATLANTIC -

The fam­ily of a 29-year-old Nova Sco­tia man who was found un­re­spon­sive in a jail cell say his death could have been pre­vented if he was given proper treat­ment.

Chris­tine Barnes said Thurs­day that her nephew, Josh Evans, tried to kill him­self at Cen­tral Nova Sco­tia Cor­rec­tional Fa­cil­ity on Mon­day and was pro­nounced dead at Dart­mouth Gen­eral Hospi­tal.

She said Evans had the men­tal ca­pac­ity of a sec­ond grader and was miss­ing half of his 22nd chro­mo­some.

“Ba­si­cally he’s like a seven-year-old boy in a man’s body,” Barnes said.

In a state­ment, the man’s father, Don Evans, said he plans on hir­ing a lawyer and taking le­gal ac­tion.

“Some­one should have known and cared enough to help him along and keep him safe. When some­one goes into cus­tody you ex­pect them to be safe and not end up in the morgue four weeks later,” Don Evans wrote to Global News.

Barnes said Josh Evans was charged with mak­ing child pornog­ra­phy avail­able, un­law­fully ac­cess­ing child pornog­ra­phy and three counts of pos­ses­sion of child pornog­ra­phy fol­low­ing a search of a home in Ni­a­gara Falls, Ont., in 2015.

While at a de­ten­tion cen­tre there, Barnes said Evans was di­ag­nosed with velo-car­dio-fa­cial syn­drome, a ge­netic con­di­tion that can cause dif­fer­ent med­i­cal prob­lems in­clud­ing heart de­fects, cleft palate, kid­ney prob­lems and learn­ing or be­havioural is­sues.

“The sig­nals go­ing into Josh’s brain tend to twist and spin, then his thoughts are al­tered,” Barnes stated. “I know he had done some­thing wrong, but I don’t think he was aware (that) what he was do­ing was wrong.”

She said he re­ceived coun­selling and med­i­ca­tion, and was also placed on sui­cide watch. Barnes said he was re­leased four months into his sen­tence on strict con­di­tions.

Barnes said Evans was again charged with child pornog­ra­phy-re­lated of­fences af­ter the fam­ily moved to Nova Sco­tia about a year ago. He was also charged with fail­ing to com­ply with a pro­ba­tion or­der and fail­ing to com­ply with a pro­hi­bi­tion or­der.

Nova Sco­tia Jus­tice Min­is­ter Mark Furey said Thurs­day that Evans was on re­mand and in a tran­si­tion day room a space for peo­ple with men­tal health is­sues or other chal­lenges who do not meet the cri­te­ria to be housed in the foren­sic part of the jail.

“It’s a hy­brid space . ... We have a group of in­mates who have men­tal-health is­sues, brain dys­func­tion, other chal­leng­ing is­sues or don’t meet the cri­te­ria for the foren­sic hospi­tal,” he said.

“He was in his cell at the time. He had re­ceived med­i­cal at­ten­tion within the fa­cil­ity, but at the time of his death was in his cell in the tran­si­tion day room space.”

Furey de­clined to say what the pris­oner’s con­di­tion was at the time of his death, but said he has con­fi­dence in how the Burn­side jail op­er­ates.

Barnes hopes changes are made to how in­mates are pro­cessed to en­sure this doesn’t hap­pen again.

“He should have been in a half­way house or some­where where he could have one-on-one coun­selling or be mon­i­tored 24-7,” Barnes said.

“I want to know why he fell through the cracks.”

“Some­one should have known and cared enough to help him along and keep him safe. When some­one goes into cus­tody you ex­pect them to be safe and not end up in the morgue four weeks later.”

Don Evans

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