Inmate at Windsor jail dies during COVID outbreak

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An inmate at the South West Detention Center has died.

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The Attorney General’s Ministry confirmed that paramedics transported an inmate to the hospital on December 7 amid an active COVID-19 outbreak. That person died in the hospital on December 18.

When asked if the inmate died of COVID-19, ministry spokesman Andrew Morrison told the Star: “It is not appropriate for the ministry to comment publicly further on this case as various investigations are underway.”

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit declared an outbreak at Windsor Jail on November 30 after three inmates tested positive on November 28, according to provincial data on COVID at correctional facilities. As of Thursday, the outbreak continues and has involved 24 confirmed cases.

The executive director of the health unit, Nicole Dupuis, said Wednesday that she could not confirm that a COVID-related death had been associated with the outbreak.

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When an inmate dies in an Ontario correctional facility, the Office of the Chief Coroner conducts an investigation to determine the cause and manner of death, Morrison said. The ministry is conducting a separate internal investigation “to determine whether all ministry policies and procedures regarding the care and custody of the deceased were followed.”

A forensic investigation “is necessary for every death in a provincial penitentiary,” he said. “If the forensic doctor determines that the death was due to a cause other than natural causes, an investigation will be called.”

If the death was the result of natural causes, the coroner could decide whether or not an investigation is necessary.

“The ministry cannot speculate whether an inmate has died as a result of COVID-19 prior to the results of the investigation.”

This is not the first death of an inmate at the South West Detention Center this year. A 21-year-old man suffered a fatal fentanyl overdose in March.

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