Changes urged after prisoner’s suicide
INQUEST: Jury recommends new training, more records
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.