Canada’s sickest inmates are locked in its deadliest prisons


May 1, 2014 10:48 am

Updated: May 2, 2014 12:21 pm

Canada’s sickest inmates are locked in its deadliest prisons

Kinew James died alone in her cell, pushing a button to call for help.

She died at Saskatoon Regional Psychiatric Centre, where more inmates have died in the past seven years than any other federal prison in Canada.

James was never supposed to spend half her life behind bars.

She was sentenced to six years for manslaughter at age 18. But that got extended repeatedly thanks to bad behaviour as she bounced from one institution to another. At 35, she was still behind bars, charged with assault, uttering threats, arson, mischief and obstruction of justice.

“Even before she went in there, she was an outgoing person and spoke her mind – that’s the kind of person she was,” says her mother Grace Campbell.

James struck out on her own early after a rough childhood, moving from place to place.

“She was a runner,” her mom recalls. “I was the same way. But she didn’t know that part.”

On the rare occasion their paths intersected, her mom recalls a skilled cook who stayed connected to her First Nations roots, sent flowers from wherever she ended up.

 Kinew JamesHD

Kinew James


Campbell remembers visiting her daughter at Kitchener’s Grand Valley Institution for Women. They sat across from each other, ate pop and chips.

James had put on weight in the years she’d been behind bars. She was on pills her mother didn’t recognize.

They spoke briefly on the phone after James was transferred to Saskatoon’s Regional Psychiatric Centre.

“I don’t think she liked it there,” Campbell says, although her daughter was light on specifics. “She was the type of person [to tell] me not to worry.”

‘They should’ve listened to her call for help’

Campbell isn’t sure what happened to her daughter that day in January last year, or why James, who is diabetic, needed urgent help as she repeatedly pressed the distress button inmates use to summon assistance. …


One response

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    January 18, 2016 at 1:24 pm

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