Hamilton

'It has to stop' — Mom takes on Niagara Detention Centre after son's overdose death

Just a couple weeks ago Angela Case from Welland Ont. stood outside of the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre, alongside others who have lost loved ones while incarcerated. On Sunday, she held a rally outside of the Niagara Detention Centre for her son, Jordan, who died in December.

Jordan Case, 22, died in December from a drug overdose

Angela Case, from Welland, Ont. stands with her two daughters, Laura Case and Raeanne Corriveau, at a rally Sunday outside of the Niagara Detention Centre in Thorold where her son, Jordan Case, died from a drug overdose in December. (Submitted by Angela Case)

Angela Case's 22-year-old son Jordan died in December from an overdose while at the Niagara Detention Centre in Thorold, Ont. Now, she does what she can to try to make sure no other mother ever has to lose a son like she did.

Just a couple weeks ago Case, from Welland Ont., stood outside of the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre, right beside others who lost loved ones while incarcerated at the Barton Jail.

On Sunday, many of them came out to stand beside her in front of the Niagara Detention Centre. 

"I would never want this to happen to someone else. It has to stop," said Case.

She wants people to know how many people have died by drug overdose inside correctional institutions, specifically in Niagara, where she feels the problem isn't getting enough attention. According to the province, two people died inside the Niagara Detention Centre in 2018. Investigations into exactly what killed them are still ongoing. 

"Everything's been shoved under the carpet in Niagara," said Case. "What is going on is not needed. It boils down to overcrowding, understaffing."

Case says there were about 50 people at the rally on Sunday including families from Hamilton and London.

When they reach out for help, they need it right away- Angela Case, mother of Jordan Case who died in Niagara Detention Centre

"It was emotional, but I feel good because we got his name out there," said Case.

The rallies come almost a year after an inquest into eight overdose deaths in Hamilton concluded with 62 recommendations made by a jury for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

According to the Office of the Chief Coroner, 11 people died from drug overdoses at the Hamilton-Wentworth Detention Centre between 2010 and 2017.

Looking for answers

Case says that at around 8:30 a.m. Dec. 1, when staff at the Niagara Detention Centre went to wake Jordan up, that they discovered that he had died — although the mother says there's conflicting information about the actual time of her son's death.

"It's really hard because I don't have a lot of answers. I was told one thing and then told another thing."

Jordan Case died in December at the age of 22. His mother, Angela Case, says he was a kid who was quiet and respectful. (Angela Case/Facebook)

According to Case, Jordan was meant to be transferred to a facility in Sarnia that day — that's why staff went to wake him.

Case is still waiting for the official coroner's report to come back with an exact cause of death, but she says traces of fentanyl and cocaine were found on Jordan's body. The report, expected soon, will detail what was in his body when he died.

The 'wrong road'

Jordan's mother says his problems with drugs started a couple years ago when he began hanging out with the "wrong" crowd and went down the "wrong" road.

Case admits that she doesn't know all of the charges Jordan was facing when he was arrested at the end of September, but says they were "petty" charges that he hadn't faced in court before his death.

"The last six months of his life were the toughest. He was into the petty theft and I think it was to feed his addiction really, because that wasn't him," said Case.

"From the stuff that I was told that he did, I was like 'what? That's not my kid,' but it's the drugs, it's the addiction."

She describes Jordan as a kid who was quiet and respectful.

Angela Case and her boyfriend, Jeremy Fox, stand with a cross that they placed outside of the Niagara Detention Centre in Thorold as a tribute to her son, Jordan, who died in December inside the centre.

Case says that although she didn't want to see her eldest child in jail, she was relieved to know where he would be because she always feared "that" phone call, but says she had no idea until Jordan's death how accessible drugs in jail are.

"I had no idea until now that getting access to drugs is [easier] in jail than it is on the street," said Case.

A few days before his late-September arrest, Case says Jordan tried, but failed, to get a bed at a detox centre.

"When they reach out for help, they need it right away because it's too easy to turn around and walk the other way and go to a drug dealer's house again," said Case.

"It's a crisis that needs a lot of attention. Niagara does not have enough help for people."

laura.clementson@cbc.ca

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Clementson is a producer for CBC's The National. She can be reached at laura.clementson@cbc.ca. Follow Laura on Twitter @LauraClementson.

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