JUSTICE: Review into death of inmate at the Cape Breton Correctional Facility completed

(June 27, 2016) – The Department of Justice has completed an internal review into the death of an offender at the Cape Breton Correctional Facility on Jan. 31. Jason LeBlanc, 42, was admitted the afternoon of Jan. 30 and was found unresponsive in his cell at 2:30 a.m. and pronounced dead by Emergency Health Services personnel at 2:45 a.m. An autopsy conducted by the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service found the cause of death to be a drug overdose.

"My heart goes out to Mr. LeBlanc's family and loved ones," said Justice Minister Diana Whalen. "We will use this tragic situation to improve our procedures going forward."

Upon admission to the correctional facility, the man was seen by health-care staff and did not show signs of impairment or otherwise indicate any health concerns. No contraband was found on him and there were no indications he had consumed drugs prior to admission. He was examined by health-care staff later that evening.

Video reviewed as part of the Department of Justice internal investigation shows the man with a small plastic bag in his cell. The bag is believed to have contained contraband drugs that were concealed in the man's body cavity at admission. Correctional officers are not permitted to conduct invasive internal searches.

The review found that some policies and procedures were not followed.

As a result of this review, Correctional Services will:

  • consult with health-care professionals to look at more intervention options to reduce risks associated with drug overdose
  • conduct a cross-jurisdictional review of best practice standards in response to drug overdose in correctional facilities
  • followup with staff including discussions on ways to reduce the risk of similar deaths in the future
  • continue to followup critical incident and stress management work with staff, as required

The review's findings can be found at http://novascotia.ca/just/global_docs/Webposting_re_death_in_custody.pdf

The Department of Justice is committed to being as open and transparent as possible about major incidents involving people in its custody. Through the Disclosure of Information on Major Incidents Involving Persons in Custody policy, the department publicly discloses major incidents including death, assaults resulting in hospitalization, and drug seizures.