BC Coroners Service says deaths increasing at correctional facilities

BC Coroners Service says deaths increasing at correctional facilities
Brendan Kergin

A BC Coroners Service report shows inmate deaths in correctional facilities within British Columbia have been trending upwards over the last 10 years.

According to the preliminary data compiled by the coroners service, there were 188 deaths in provincial and correctional facilities between Jan. 1, 2013, and Dec. 31, 2023, averaging 17 deaths annually during this period.

This includes deaths of inmates transferred to hospitals for medical treatment and deaths occurring in sheriff’s vehicles during transportation to a correctional facility.

The data also shows that over five years, between 2018 and 2023, the number of deaths in correctional facilities increased by 56 per cent, from 14 deaths to 25.

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(BC Coroners Service)

Men accounted for the majority of deaths at both provincial and federal facilities, making up 98 per cent of deaths from 2013 to 2023.

No women died while at a provincial or federal facility between 2018 and 2023, according to the BC Coroners Service.

During the 10 years reviewed in the report, about 60 per cent (114) of deaths reported were at federal correctional facilities, while provincial inmates accounted for 74 deaths.

More than half of deaths at federal facilities were reported at Pacific Institution in Abbotsford.

One-third of the deaths at provincial facilities were reported at Surrey Pretrial Services Centre.

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(BC Coroners Service)

While 18 per cent of deaths (17) within the 10-year window were classified as accidental, two-thirds of the accidental deaths (12) were deemed to have been caused by unregulated drug toxicity, based on confirmed drug-toxicity cases on closed coroner investigations.

BC Coroner Service says, all data in the report is subject to change as individual investigations are completed and causes of death are confirmed.

SEE ALSO: New correctional centre opens in Nanaimo at $181M price tag

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