Jail deaths inquest concludes

By Jeff Labine
The Chronicle-Journal

After eight years, the inquest into the deaths of Ronald Fagan and Jacy Pierre has come to a close.

But for Marlene Pierre, Jacy Pierre’s grandmother, the work hasn’t finished.

“We have to take our men and women out of jails and provide alternatives,” she said.

The inquest looking into the 2007 deaths of Fagan, 21, and Pierre, 27, concluded on Wednesday. The jury panel made up of all women presented their verdict, which included 16 recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths from happening.

The jury ruled that both Fagan and Pierre died by accident from methadone toxicity while in custody at the Thunder Bay District Jail.

The roughly 16 recommendations, which were directed towards the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the jail and the Chief Coroner’s office, included building a new jail; ensuring each First Nations, Metis, and Inuit inmates can self-identify where they are from; the ministry reduce contraband from coming into jails by using modern technology like body scanners; within 12 months review the Jail Screening Assessment Tool and consider adding validating questions regarding substance abuse or utilization of a new assessment tool; increase correctional staffing levels to enable inmates to have regular access to private counseling with Native Inmate Liaison Officers, chaplains, elders and others.

Following the closing of the inquest, Marlene Pierre said she and the rest of the family are pleased with the recommendations by the jury. She expressed disappointment that they still weren’t able to get aboriginal representation on the jury.

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