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Coroner’s inquest recommends prison guards carry 911 tool

The jury from a coroner’s inquest into the death of Saskatchewan Penitentiary inmate Curtis Cozart recommended that correctional officers carry a 911 tool after evening lockup and be allowed to call 911.

Prison staff found Cozart, 30, hanging in his cell on May 23, 2017. He was declared dead at 10:50 p.m. on May 24, 2017, in a Prince Albert hospital. 

An inquest was held Feb. 24-27 in Prince Albert. The six-person jury heard there was a delay in calling 911 because guards are required to first contact a supervisor. 

The jury also recommended that during security patrols there should be no less than one correctional officer left in a central location, such as “the Dome” at Saskatchewan Penitentiary. 

They also recommended that these changes in policy for correctional officers be confirmed by signature with each officer signing that he has read and understands the changes.

The inquest determined Cozart’s cause of death to be hypoxic encephalopathy due to hanging by suicide.

Dr. Syed Ali testified that Cozart suffered from depression.

Cozart was only seven months into his two-year sentence for assault with a weapon, theft under $5,000, obstructing a police officer and failing to comply with a probation order.

Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist

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