Nfld. & Labrador

Inmate died at HMP by suicide, sources say

CBC News has learned that Saturday's death at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's was a suicide.

3 suicides at Newfoundland jails in the past year

The death by an inmate Saturday was the third at a provincial prison in three months. (CBC)

Saturday's inmate death at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's was a suicide, according to multiple sources for CBC News.

A release sent Saturday by the Department of Justice and Public Safety said the man was alone in his cell when he died.

This is the third inmate death in a Newfoundland jail in three months, and the fourth inmate death in the last year. 

Neither the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary nor the Department of Justice and Public Safety has confirmed the cause of the inmate's death on Saturday.

In a statement issued on Sunday morning, an official with the Department of Justice wrote, "As this matter is still under investigation, the department can not provide any additional details about the incident."

Multiple suicides in Newfoundland prisons

This is the second suicide death at Her Majesty's Penitentiary over the last year.

Last August, Doug Neary, a married father of two children, took his life at the prison.

Authorities have also determined that one of two inmate deaths at the Clarenville Correctional Centre for Women this spring was a suicide.

Samantha Piercey, 28, died at the facility on May 26. Her mother, Lisa Piercey, said she was told by authorities that her daughter died by suicide.

Samantha Piercey of Corner Brook died at the Clarenville Correctional Centre for Women in May. (Submitted)

The news came 48 hours after she was first notified of her daughter's death, she said, and she doesn't believe the explanation.

"I spoke to her the night before. She was coming back to Corner Brook the following Thursday," she told CBC last week at a protest demanding a public inquiry into Piercey's death and the death of another inmate, Skye Martin, at the prison.

"She really believed come Friday, she was out. She sounded upbeat, she couldn't wait."

Martin, 27, died at the women's jail on April 21. 

Skye Martin died at the Clarenville Correctional Centre for Women in April. (Facebook)

The RCMP said Martin choked on her lunch in her cell and that her death was not suspicious. 

But a former inmate of the prison who was incarcerated when Martin died said the RCMP's story doesn't line up with what she heard.

Sabrina Hudson said Martin was in a cell alone, in the segregation unit, on the day she died, banging loudly on its door.

"She was banging and banging and banging, then it started getting lighter and lighter and lighter," Hudson told CBC News in early June.

"And that's when we heard six guards running down the hallway."

Deaths under investigation

In May, the Department of Justice and Public Safety launched an independent investigation into Neary's death at the HMP and the two deaths at the women's prison. 

Marlene Jesso, a recently retired 34-year veteran of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary who once ran the combined forces special enforcement unit, is leading the investigation.

According to the Department of Justice and Public Safety, the RNC is investigating Saturday's death at the penitentiary, and an independent investigation will begin once police conclude its review.

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