Correctional Services Canada investigating Kinew James' death
Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013 12:41PM CST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 23, 2013 6:39PM CST
The Elizabeth Fry Society is speaking out about reports alleging that guards at the Regional Psychiatric Centre ignored calls for help from an inmate who died of an apparent heart attack on the weekend.
On Sunday 35-year-old Kinew James was found unresponsive in her cell. While attempts were made to save her life, James was taken to the hospital where she died.
Reports are surfacing that she pushed her call button for help, but didn’t receive assistance. According to the Elizabeth Fry Society of Canada, when James pushed the button, a burse came and looked through the mail slot, and left. The nurse then returned to the cell, and told James to drink some water.
“It was a woman in distress; she had made a call and talked to the guards and the nursing staff. What we need to find out is was it timely enough? Could something have been prevented or was this a natural death? We don’t know at this time,” said Sue Delanoy with Elizabeth Fry Society of Saskatchewan.
James’ family is looking for answers. “I’m really angry,” said James’ sister, Cheryl James. “I want to know what it was like for her,” she said.
Cheryl James said the news of her sister’s death was a shock. “She was so young,” James said, adding, “How could something like this happen?”
The Elizabeth Fry Society is concerned about how the centre’s staff handled the situation. Correctional Services Canada said they are investigating the incident with local police. They also said that whenever the assistance button is pushed, it’s treated as a legitimate and serious distress call and staff respond according to set procedures.
The Chief Coroner of Saskatchewan completed an autopsy, however, they said the results were inconclusive and that further testing will be done.
James was serving a sentence of 15 years for manslaughter, assault, uttering threats, arson, mischief, and obstruction of justice. She was set to be released this summer. Her family said she had plans to go to university this fall.