A diabetic man who was arrested for an unpaid speeding ticket and taken to the Edmonton Remand Centre says he wasn’t given any insulin for nearly 20 hours — despite repeated requests.

Last weekend, 27-year-old Mitchell Chernoff — a Type 1 diabetic — was pulled over by RCMP for a four-year-old unpaid speeding ticket.

Chernoff’s insulin was taken away and, as a result, his blood sugar levels started to get dangerously high. Shortly after his arrest, he ended up at the Edmonton Remand Centre where he says he repeatedly asked for insulin.

“They just kept putting it off,” Chernoff said. “Just a little longer. Insulin is one of those things you can’t push off. It’s a time sensitive thing.”

Chernoff said the nurses at the Remand Centre tested his blood sugar numerous times. When his blood sugar came up at 20 millimoles per litre (mmol/L), he said the nurses asked him how he was feeling.

“I feel like garbage,” Chernoff said. “My blood sugar is at 20. ‘Is it an emergency?’ Well, no it’s not. I’m still conscious. I’m still able to communicate. But what happens when it becomes an emergency?”

He said each time his blood sugar was tested, it was higher than before.

'It was just a speeding ticket'

Chernoff said his blood sugar level was approaching 30 mmol/L. A normal level is between four and eight mmol/L. Extremely high blood sugar levels can cause severe dehydration and cause people to go into a coma.

It took almost 20 hours before Chernoff was given any insulin. He has since been released from the Remand Centre. 


Chernoff said his blood sugar level was tested numerous times — and each time, it was higher than before. (CBC)

The Alberta solicitor general's department and Alberta Health Services both said they cannot comment on specific cases, but insist that inmate health is closely monitored. 

Chernoff disagrees. 

“You’re torturing a diabetic when you don’t give them their insulin and don’t take care of them properly,” he said.

While Chernoff admits he should have paid off the speeding ticket in the first place, he is shocked in the way he was treated. 

“It’s just a speeding ticket,” he said. “I didn’t rape anyone. I didn’t kill anyone. I didn’t rob anyone.”

Chernoff said he is relieved he finally received his insulin and hopes no one else has to go through what he did.

With files from CBC's Silvana Benolich