Prisons black out errors in death reports

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OTTAWA – Canada’s prison ombudsman says he’s concerned federal prisons are censoring jail-death reports before they are given to inmates’ families.

Howard Sapers says in a study released today that his office compared the uncensored investigatory reports it received from Corrections Canada with the highly edited versions eight families obtained through access-to-information laws.

The report says the “current practice of exempting errors, shortfalls and policy non-compliance leaves little room for public scrutiny.”

The study, titled “In the Dark,” was carried out in 2015-16 after some families complained to Sapers office about their difficulty in receiving information about how loved ones died.

The deaths includes four suicides, three deaths by natural causes and one serious bodily injury, with one family dropping out of the study as it was being carried out.

Sapers makes nine recommendations, including one urging that investigative reports should be “presumptively and routinely shared” in a timely manner with next of kin.