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Recommendations Of The Coroner's Inquest Into The Death Of Robert Gentles

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44. It is recommended that there be formal steps to notify families of a death in the institution. Notification must be made in person.

CSC'S RESPONSE:

CSC has in place a policy which outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a death of an inmate or a day parolee. This policy is Commissioner's Directive #530 "Death of Inmates and Day Parolees."

The underlying principle behind this policy is CSC's Mission Document which recognizes the "dignity of individuals, the rights of all members of society" and, in particular, the "value of family and community relationships."

The CD requires the institutional head to immediately notify the person previously designated by the inmate. This "designated person" may not in all cases be the family of the offender.

The involvement of institutional chaplains in the notification process is common practice in most institutions, although such is not made mandatory in the Directive. The Chaplaincy Manual contains a section related to the notification of next of kin. This manual emphasizes the importance of personal contact using family clergy if known, or clergy of the same denomination in the same city of the next of kin, or the use of hospital chaplains. Only in extreme cases, when other possibilities are exhausted, is telephone notification suggested, and even in those situations the manual recommends that someone be present with the next of kin at the time.

While all efforts will be made to attempt to make the notification in person, such may not always be possible for a variety of reasons including:

Regardless, CSC supports the principle of personal notification and will re-emphasize this requirement to all employees in an amendment to the Commissioner's Directive. Suggested wording is as follows:

"Notification of death is best done in person. Media releases should be withheld until this can be done properly. Chaplains have access to a professional network of caregivers skilled in such matters and are the preferred delegation. Police may be a possible resource. Notice by telephone should be a last resource."