New Brunswick

Forgotten deaths: What we know about 13 people who died in jails

CBC News has identified more than half of the 13 people who died inside New Brunswick’s jails by talking to family members and reviewing more than a decade’s worth of death notices, coroner’s inquest reports and news clippings.

A CBC News investigation has identified more than half of the 13 inmates who died in New Brunswick jails

An inmate died in hospital as a result of injuries he suffered in an assault in late October at the Shediac jail. (CBC)

A CBC News investigation has found that 13 people have died inside provincial jails since 2004 but only four cases have been subject to a public coroner's inquest.

Details about the remaining nine cases remain largely secret.

The provincial government has agreed to start telling the public when an inmate dies in jail.

But the Department of Public Safety won't apply its new policy retroactively to provide details about the 13 deaths.

CBC News has identified more than half of the 13 people who died inside New Brunswick's jails by talking to family members and reviewing more than a decade's worth of death notices, coroner's inquest reports and news clippings.

These are their stories.

James "Todd" Brand, 36

James "Todd" Brand, 36, was awaiting a court date for an impaired driving charge when he took his own life on April 3, 2004. (CBC)

Brand was awaiting a court date for an impaired driving charge when he took his own life on April 3, 2004.

The 36-year-old man from Miramichi was detained in the Moncton Detention Centre, which has since been closed.

An inquest held into Brand's death in 2005 found that he was worried for his safety when he was admitted to the jail. He asked to be transferred to another area of the facility.

Even after he was moved to a cell close to the guard's office, Brand refused to eat and appeared agitated.

Brand was found unresponsive in his cell when a correctional guard tried to retrieve his meal tray.

Staff performed CPR and tried to resuscitate him, but Brand died in hospital.

A coroner's inquest jury recommended that jail staff upgrade their CPR training every six months, receive suicide prevention training and start keeping statistics on suicides and attempted suicides.

The Department of Public Safety declined to provide those suicide statistics, citing privacy concerns.

Steven Bastarache, 31

Steven Bastarache, 31, died of an opiate overdose while in custody of the Madawaska Regional Correctional Centre on the morning of July 6, 2004. (CBC)

Bastarache died of an opiate overdose while in custody of the Madawaska Regional Correctional Centre on the morning of July 6, 2004.

The Moncton man was in the jail on remand waiting to answer a manslaughter charge when he died.

Jail staff told a 2005 inquest that Bastarache seemed intoxicated before he died and marijuana had been found in his cell. He had also been taking anxiety medication.

According to a report from that inquest, an officer searched Bastarache, but the inmate didn't request medical attention. He was returned to his cell around 1 a.m. and guards checked on him throughout the night.

Bastarache was found face down in his cell by an officer doing rounds at 5:45 a.m. He would not be revived.

A coroner's inquest jury recommended more hands-on CPR training for correctional officers, to be renewed every six months, more intense supervision of inmates and measures to reduce illegal contraband from spreading inside jails.

Jeffrey Hood, 43

Jeffrey Hood, 43, committed suicide inside his cell at the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre on Feb. 23, 2006, hanging himself with a laundry bag from a sprinkler. (CBC)

Hood took his own life inside his cell at the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre on Feb. 23, 2006, hanging himself with a laundry bag from a sprinkler.

The Fredericton man was serving a sentence at the jail for breaching a court undertaking when he died.

Hood was addicted to Dilaudid and was using Fentanyl patches prescribed by his doctor to avoid withdrawal.

When he entered jail, the patches were taken away because they didn't meet the jail's drug withdrawal protocol, according to records from a coroner's inquest held in 2007.

Coming down cold turkey off drugs, guards noted that Hood was in "rough shape."

They found him unresponsive in his cell during a lockdown period on the day of his death.

They tried to resuscitate him and transported him to hospital, where he died later that night. The coroner ruled his death was caused by asphyxiation by hanging.

The inquest jury recommended that jail staff provide a more detailed description of suicide and drug addiction risk when filling out forms for inmates.

They said high-risk withdrawal patients should be put on a list and the correctional service should review access to mental health services at the jail.

His family believes Hood attempted suicide to be sent to hospital to get help for withdrawal.

But he struggled after the death of his wife in 2001.

"When she passed away, he went downhill," said Cindy Reid, Hood's sister.

"He took that hard."

Derrick Urwin, 36

Derrick Urwin, 36, died of a drug overdose in custody of the Moncton Detention Centre on Sept. 6, 2007. (CBC)
Urwin died of a drug overdose in custody of the Moncton Detention Centre on Sept. 6, 2007.

He was in custody at the jail waiting to respond to charges of manslaughter and accessory after the fact to murder.

According to a coroner's inquest report, Urwin was found with no vital signs in a secured cell.

Medical staff immediately performed CPR and emergency services were summoned, but he couldn't be revived. He died in hospital.

The coroner ruled his death an accidental overdose from a "lethal cocktail" of prescribed and illegal drugs.

A coroner's inquest jury held in 2010 recommended reviewing the use of defibrillators at the now-closed Moncton Detention Centre and improving communication between jail staff.

They also recommended holding inquests in a more timely fashion.

In a 2007 interview with CBC News, Urwin's grandfather, Harry Urwin, said he was skeptical that his grandson died of natural causes.

"He was in good health, that's what I understand. He was in excellent health. If you'd seen him down there you would have said, 'Oh, he's in good health.' He had no trouble."

Jason Hopkins, 29

Jason Hopkins, 29, was in custody awaiting trial on an impaired driving charge when he committed suicide in his cell at the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre. (CBC)
Hopkins was in custody awaiting trial on an impaired driving charge when he took his own life in his cell at the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre.

The Minto man's family members have many unanswered questions about Hopkins' death and have spent the past eight years trying to piece together his final hours.

Barb McAllister, his mother, said she begged for the coroner to call an inquest into her son's death, but it has never happened.

She said officials told her he hung himself with a laundry bag, something she believes never should have happened after an inquest was held into Jeffrey Hood's hanging death, which also involved a laundry bag.

Hopkins struggled with depression, couldn't read or write and turned to drugs or alcohol at a young age, his mother said.

"I tried for years to get the child the help he needed. The help was never available for him," she said.

She remembers her son as a naturalist who loved animals and being in the woods. One time, he found an injured baby deer and nursed it back to health.

"He had this side that loved to cradle and cuddle wild animals if he could get his hands on them," she said.

UPDATED: Jeffrey Nelson Ryan, 37

Jeff Ryan is one of 13 people who have died in custody of New Brunswick's jails since 2004. (CBC)
Ryan was on remand in the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre awaiting a court date on a charge of driving without a license when he died on March 8, 2011.

Little is known about exactly how the Pocologan man died.

Publicly, the Department of Public Safety has only said that foul play isn't suspected in his death and that he was alone in his cell when his body was found.

Officials said his name wouldn't be released at the request of his family, but his brother and father say they were never asked.

Ryan was taking 80 milligrams per day of Oxycontin for pain when he was taken into custody, a prescription that didn't follow him behind bars.

In phone calls with his brother and father, Ryan complained of being in withdrawal. He said he couldn't breathe.

The family questions why Ryan didn't get his medication, despite his doctor faxing the prescription to the jail.

They also want to know whether he got the medical attention he needed and if he was properly supervised before he died.

"He was saying, 'Do something for me, I'm going to die in here,' basically," Ryan's brother, Shawn Ryan, said.

An inquest has never been called into Ryan's death.

Adam Prest, 39

Adam Prest, 39, was charged with the second-degree murder of his common-law wife, 33-year-old Tanya Marie Shand, when he died at the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre. (CBC)
Prest was charged with the second-degree murder of his common-law wife, 33-year-old Tanya Marie Shand, when he died at the Saint John Regional Correctional Centre.

Police have never revealed the exact cause of the Rothesay man's death, only saying that no foul play was involved.

Carolyn Warnock, 26

Carolyn Warnock, 26, died at The Moncton Hospital on June 3, 2015 while in custody of the New Brunswick Women's Correctional Centre in Miramichi. (CBC)
Carolyn Warnock died at The Moncton Hospital on June 3, 2015 while in custody of the New Brunswick Women's Correctional Centre in Miramichi.

The family of Warnock, 26, told CBC News last year that she died after an abscess burst while taking medication for a sinus infection.

They said she was in custody awaiting a court hearing on allegations of armed robbery when she died in hospital.

Her family continues to have questions about whether Warnock received proper treatment in jail and if her death could have been prevented.

A coroner's inquest hasn't been called in Warnock's death.

Her death notice says that Warnock, who was from Saint John, loved fishing, being around the water and music.

Unknown

The Department of Public Safety hasn't released any details about this death. (CBC)
The Department of Public Safety hasn't released any details about this death.

It's not known who the inmate was, how he or she died, where the death happened or when it happened.

Unknown

The Department of Public Safety hasn't released any details about this death. (CBC)
The Department of Public Safety hasn't released any details about this death.

It's not known who the inmate was, how he or she died, where the death happened or when it happened.

Unknown

The Department of Public Safety hasn't released any details about this death. (CBC)
The Department of Public Safety hasn't released any details about this death.

It's not known who the inmate was, how he or she died, where the death happened or when it happened.

Unknown

The Department of Public Safety hasn't released any details about this death. (CBC)
The Department of Public Safety hasn't released any details about this death.

It's not known who the inmate was, how he or she died, where the death happened or when it happened.

Unknown

The Department of Public Safety hasn't released any details about this death. (CBC)
The Department of Public Safety hasn't released any details about this death.

It's not known who the inmate was, how he or she died, where the death happened or when it happened.

now