Father of inmate who died of overdose wants to keep drugs out of Alberta prisons

The father of a man who died in an Alberta prison on Saturday is calling for correctional facilities to clamp down on the flow of narcotics into prisons.

29-year-old Anatoly Eichman died in custody at Drumheller Institution

Anatoly Eichman, 29, died in Drumheller Institution on Saturday. (Supplied)

The father of a man who died in an Alberta prison on Saturday is calling for correctional facilities to clamp down on the flow of narcotics into prisons.

"I'd like to see some serious changes," said Günther Eichmann from his Calgary home on Sunday.

"I do think they're trying, but I think they need to try a little harder."

On Saturday, 29-year-old Anatoly Eichman died in custody at Drumheller Institution. 

Correctional Services of Canada has not yet released his cause of death, but Günther said RCMP officers told him that his son died of a drug overdose and that an autopsy is being done ot determine the exact cause of death.

In December, correctional officers seized fentanyl and steroid capsules, among other contraband, worth an estimated institutional value of $30,885 from an inmate at the prison. 

There were reports of multiple overdoses at the institution last year. 

Günther said his son had talked about issues at the prison, but never opened up about exactly what problems he faced because he was worried the guards — who listen in on inmate phone calls — would overhear. 

"It was a really bad place. He would say 'I can't tell you what's going on here,' but he did tell us it wasn't a safe place, there was lots of stuff going on that he couldn't talk about, that he wanted to talk about at sometime when they weren't listening," he said. 

Anatoly struggled with PTSD

Günther and his wife Debbie adopted Anatoly from Russia in 1999 when he was 10 years old. 

He said his son never really recovered from his childhood in a Russian orphanage, where he developed PTSD that would stick with him for his entire life.

"He was such a smart boy," he said. "He could have done anything he wanted to, but he couldn't apply himself. And part of the problem was the damage he received there."

Anatoly was serving a sentence of two years, five months and 21 days for possession of a prohibited/restricted firearm with ammunition. 

Günther said he knows his son shares much of the blame for what happened, but it can't stop him as a parent from wishing his son hadn't had access to the drugs that ended his life.

"It's very difficult. Instead of being a three year sentence, it ended up being a death sentence," he said.

Günther hopes to connect with other parents of overdose victims to push for change in the system. 

"Make sure that there's no more drugs coming in the jail. Whatever it takes."

Correctional Service Canada said it's reviewing the circumstances of Anatoly's death.

With files from Terri Trembath