Burnside staff didn’t follow policy for intellectually disabled inmate who died: review

The Nova Scotia Department of Justice is adding resources to the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Burnside following the death of an inmate.

Joshua Aaron Evans, 29, was found in severe medical distress in the Burnside jail on Sept. 10. He died the next day in hospital. The department launched an internal review into his death and released the results of that review on Wednesday.

The review found deficiencies, including the failure to complete daily progress reports on Evans for six days leading up to his death. On the night he was found in distress, the review found that staff missed two rounds of checks because they’d been drawn away to deal with an issue in another part of the jail. That’s a violation of policy.

Evans was being held in the jail’s transition day room where he was monitored by both clinical staff from the Nova Scotia Health Authority and correctional officers. Evans was developmentally disabled. The department’s review found that Evans was having normal interactions with staff and other inmates on the night he was found in distress.

The province says it will add a full-time social worker and inspector to ensure compliance with policies. 

The department is also doing a full assessment of programs available to those with special needs to see if more supports are needed.

Evans’ family is being given the opportunity to participate in a restorative conference with staff, senior managers and those who interacted with Evans before his death.

The province is promising to incorporate any findings from this process in future improvements at the jail.

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