Toxic drug supply crisis showing up in province’s jails: BC Coroners

A new report from the BC Coroners Service shows that most accidental deaths that occurred within B.C.’s federal and provincial correctional facilities in the last 10 years were caused by toxic drugs.

The new findings say a total of 17 deaths in the system over that period are considered accidental, with 15 of them being related to toxic drug supply.

The report points out that the number includes confirmed drug-toxicity cases, and doesn’t include data for cases still under investigation or inquest.

Among overall prison deaths for the past decade, there were 188 deaths in all B.C. correctional facilities. Sixty per cent of these took place at federal facilities and 40 per cent at provincial facililties. Among federal prisons, Pacific Institution had the highest number of inmate deaths with 64, followed by Mission Institution with 15 deaths. For provincial facilities, the highest deaths were reported at North Fraser Pretrial Centre with 23 deaths, followed by Surrey Pretrial Services Centre with 20 deaths.

The number of overall annual deaths in prison increased from 14 deaths in 2018 to 25 last year.

Most of the deaths have been classified as “natural.”