New Brunswick

Mentally ill inmates don't belong in prison, coroner's inquest hears

A retired social worker who worked with a dying inmate in the Shepody Healing Centre in Dorchester told a coroner's inquest Thursday that mentally ill people should not be in a federal penitentiary.

Retired social worker who dealt with Glen Wareham says mental health psychiatric facility is more appropriate

Glen Edward Wareham, 28, was from New Waterford, N.S. (McLellan Bros. Funeral Home/InMemorium.ca)

A retired social worker who worked with a dying inmate in the Shepody Healing Centre in Dorchester told a coroner's inquest Thursday that mentally ill people should not be in a federal penitentiary.

John Lutz was testifying at the inquest into the 2010 death of Glen Edward Wareham, 28, of New Waterford, N.S., who died as a result of complications from extensive self-harm.

"A mental health psychiatric facility is where he should be, but the justice system was responsible for putting him there," said Lutz.

The Shepody Healing Centre is the Correctional Service of Canada's facility in Atlantic Canada for inmates with mental health issues.

Lutz said a mental health psychiatric facility would be a more appropriate setting for inmates like Wareham.

"The Shepody Healing Centre, key people are correctional officers," said Lutz. "At a psychiatric facility there are no officers to egg patients on."

Lutz said some correctional officers came off as "indifferent" in their dealings with Wareham, who was routinely restrained in an effort to prevent him from harming himself.

"I came under the impression that they were just there to collect a paycheque," said Lutz.

"They were also not fond of his family visiting because it was four people and there was some attitude there and you would not find that in a psychiatric facility."

The inquest headed by chief coroner Gregory Forestell began Monday and is scheduled to last two weeks. The coroner's jury will be given the opportunity to make recommendations to try and prevent death's similar to Wareham's in the future.

With files from Kashmala Fida

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