The Province

Changes urged after prisoner’s suicide

INQUEST: Jury recommends new training, more records

- JENNIFER SALTMAN THE PROVINCE jensaltman@theprovinc­ — With files from The Ottawa Citizen

A coroner’s inquest into the suicide of a convicted wife-killer who died inside his Abbotsford prison cell has resulted in seven recommenda­tions for the Correction­al Service of Canada.

Roman William Rezanowicz, 57, was found unresponsi­ve in his cell at Pacific Institutio­n on the afternoon of April 30, 2014. Staff members performed CPR and emergency services were called, but Rezanowicz could not be resuscitat­ed. He had cut his femoral artery — a self-inflicted wound — and bled out as a result.

An inquest was held on Monday and Tuesday at the coroners court in Burnaby.

At the time of his death, Rezanowicz was serving a life sentence for murdering his wife, 32-year-old Kelli Rezanowicz. Rezanowicz strangled Kelli in the bedroom of their suburban Ottawa home and then hung her body in the garage to make it look like suicide.

Rezanowicz, who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophre­nic, had argued he was not criminally responsibl­e by reason of mental disorder, saying that hallucinat­ory voices commanded him to kill. The Crown, however, had alleged that Rezanowicz was motivated by money because he stood to receive $750,000 from his wife’s life insurance policies.

He was convicted of first-degree murder in November 1997.

To prevent similar deaths, the five-person coroner’s jury made seven recommenda­tions to the federal agency responsibl­e for managing Canada’s institutio­ns.

The jurors recommende­d the correction­al service research appropriat­e technology for all officers on duty to enable them to request immediate assistance, including during overlappin­g staff change times.

The service should also provide mandatory scenario-based training in first aid to all front-line prison staff and inmate checks should be conducted at random intervals.

The jury said all department­s should have access to relevant informatio­n — possibly medical records — when it could pose a risk to other inmates or staff.

“Front-line staff should have as much informatio­n as possible to provide the best treatment and safety to all staff and inmates,” the jury wrote.

Transition between institutio­ns should be improved with more documentat­ion and notes about prisoners. Regular meetings, proper documentat­ion and informatio­n-sharing between department­s also need to happen “so no one falls through the cracks,” according to the jury.

The jury noted staff are still affected by Rezanowicz’s suicide and critical incident stress management should be available to staff after such an incident.

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