The jury participating in the public inquest into the death of 19-year-old Blaine Conrad Sargent found the immediate cause of death was a methamphetamine overdose and classified the death as accidental, but it also made nine recommendations.
Sargent died on Sept. 21, 2011 at the University of Northern B.C. Hospital. He was taken to the hospital after going into medical distress at the Prince George Correctional Centre a short time after returning from a court appearance in Williams Lake.
Of the nine recommendations four were directed to Sentry Correctional Health Services Inc., and included during the intake process of inmates, that health care professionals explain in “plain and simple” language the risks of packing drugs, and that if drugs are present it will be treated as medical issue.
To BC Corrections and BC Sheriffs the jury recommended implementing official 10-minute checks on prisoners with noted medical concerns.
To the RCMP, BC Corrections and BC Sheriffs that they continue to work on an information sharing system that shares pertinent information, and that information posters on the danger of drug packing are made and placed in high visibility areas, both in RCMP cell blocks as well as correctional centres.
“The posters are to be made in such a way that anyone can understand, including illiterate and non-English speaking people,” the jury’s statement noted.
It also suggested the RCMP make notation on the prison jail forms if there is any reason to suspect an inmate is packing drugs or has other medical issues and that a written assessment check list be designed for the RCMP for use when a medical check has been requested.
The three-day inquest, presided by regional coroner Donita Kuzma, finished in Williams Lake May 8.
“This death is a tragedy and our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Mr. Sargent,” a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said in an e-mailed response. “BC Corrections and the Court Services Branch take this death very seriously and are committed to making changes that improve the safety of inmates in our custody. We thank the jury for its thoughtful recommendations for which BC Corrections and the Court Services Branch will give careful consideration and a formal response for each one will be provided to the Coroner’s Service. These recommendations will build on those already put in place as a result of the joint BC Corrections’ Critical and Court Services’ Incident Review.”