Deaths in custody
CSC takes the death of an inmate very seriously. Death in custody is a complex and difficult issue and we need to always work to enhance prevention and intervention strategies.
CSC is committed to learning from these deaths in custody and to preventing future non-natural deaths. Over the five fiscal years from 2011/2012 to 2015/2016, an average of 58 deaths in custody occurred per year. Natural deaths accounted for more than half of all deaths, and suicide was the most common type of non-natural death.
Whenever a person dies in federal custody, the police and coroner or medical examiner are notified. If the death appears to be of natural causes, we will conduct a mortality review. Circumstances of the death will determine if the coroner or medical examiner will investigate and CSC will hold a National Board of Investigation (BOI). A BOI will always include a member of the community as a board member to enhance accountability and transparency. BOIs and coroner's inquests offer an opportunity for CSC to improve the way we manage inmates under our care and custody.
In 2017, CSC released guidelines giving direction to CSC health care professional and institutional staff in responding to requests from inmates seeking medical assistance in dying. Changes to laws in Canada now allow eligible Canadian adults, including federal inmates, to request medical assistance in dying. CSC’s guidelines are in accordance with eligibility criteria, safeguards and processes outlined in legislation. A formal investigation is not required.
CSC produces an annual report on deaths in custody, which includes compiled information gathered by the CSC’s Research Branch. These reports enhance accountability and transparency and informs prevention and intervention strategies.
- Corrections and Conditional Release Act (Section 19) - Investigations
- Commissioner's Directive 530 – Death of an Inmate: Notifications and Funeral Arrangements
- Death of a Person in the Care and Custody of Correctional Service of Canada: A Guide for Family and Friends
Death by natural causes
Death by non-natural causes
- Commissioner's Directive 041 – Incident Investigations
- Commissioner's Directive 048 – Provision of Support Services at Coroner's Inquests
- Commissioner's Directive 568-1 – Recording and Reporting of Security Incidents
- Commissioner's Directive 568-4 – Preservation of Crime Scenes and Evidence.
Medical assistance in dying
Published reports on deaths in custody
- Response to the Coroner's inquest touching the death of Ashley Smith
- Response to the Office of the Correctional Investigator's Report – Fatal Response: An investigation into the preventable death of Matthew Ryan Hines May 2017
- Response to the Office of the Correctional Investigator's report In the Dark: An investigation into CSCS' information sharing and disclosure practices following a death in custody
- Response of CSC to the Correctional Investigator's report: a three-year review of federal inmate suicides (2011-2014)
- CSC progress report: response to the Office of the Correctional Investigator's deaths in custody study, the correctional Investigator's report: a preventable death, and the CSC national BOI into the death of an offender at Grand Valley Institution for Women.
- Response to the Correctional Investigator's Final Report: An Investigation of the Correctional Service of Canada's Mortality Review Process
- Independent Review Committee, Final Report into Federal Deaths in Custody: 2009-2010
- The Final Report of the Independent Review Committee into Federal Deaths in Custody 2010-2011
- Third Independent Review of Deaths in Custody, April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2014
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