Ever since her son died of an enormous fentanyl overdose behind bars, Angela Vos has been stored awake at night time by a single query: How did Jordan Sheard get previous correctional officers with such a lethal amount of medication hidden inside his physique?
Now, a autopsy report into the 26-year-old’s demise final June, shared solely with CBC Information by his household, reveals that earlier than he entered Ontario’s Lindsay jail, Sheard was twice checked for medicine utilizing physique scanners — and twice cleared by correctional officers.
However a medical examination after his demise would detect what guards did not: inside Sheard’s colon was a torn plastic bag containing a tender, purple substance weighing over 26 grams finally discovered to include fentanyl.
“I really feel like Jordan was thought-about a no one and nothing due to his psychological well being dysfunction,” Vos mentioned. “And you then add substance use onto it. And that is like two completely different stigma that he was affected by.”
The brand new particulars within the report ready by Ontario’s Forensic Pathology Service for the provincial coroner’s workplace shed new mild on Sheard’s ultimate, agonizing hours because the substance made its method via his physique — and lift acquainted questions concerning the effectiveness of jail physique scanners.
Fentanyl a ‘vital’ contributor to demise
Based on the report, Sheard died of acute drug toxicity attributed to fentanyl, etizolam (a depressant just like valium) and presumably a tranquilizer often known as flualprazolam.
The focus of fentanyl in his blood was “extraordinarily excessive, properly above what could be deadly in any circumstance, no matter tolerance,” the report famous. And whereas that focus was seemingly affected by ordinary adjustments in drug distribution via a physique after demise, fentanyl was nonetheless discovered to be a “vital” think about what killed him.
Loyal and loving, Sheard was the type of son who texted his mom ‘I like you’ on a regular basis, Vos recalled. However, she mentioned, he had his “demons.”
For years, he struggled with post-traumatic stress dysfunction, melancholy and on-and-off drug use. Then in late Might, after a messy breakup and a household dispute, he grabbed a knife from his father’s kitchen, saying he needed to kill himself.
After a quick hospital keep, Sheard was taken to the Central East Correctional Centre. He was already out on bail and on home arrest from a earlier cost, and his household believed he could be safer in jail beneath the watchful eye of guards than he could be at house, and determined to revoke his bail.
As a substitute, on his first night time there, Sheard overdosed. Jail workers administered naloxone and he was rushed to a close-by hospital.
He survived and was introduced again to the jail. A day later, he was lifeless.
Not the primary time questions raised about scanners
The report signifies Sheard underwent routine physique scans for drug detection twice — as soon as on Might 30, when he first arrived on the jail, and once more on Might 31 after coming back from hospital.
“Notes point out that the correctional officer(s) who initially learn/interpreted the scans had not recognized any abnormality and ‘cleared’ the scans,” the report says.
‘These monitoring the scans could have problem distinguishing international objects from human anatomy if not adequately skilled.”– Impartial Evaluation of Ontario Corrections group, 2018
However reviews written “at a later date” counsel a secondary overview of the scans by different guards discovered them “consistent with this man having hid medicine inside a physique cavity, particularly the rectum.”
When or why that secondary overview befell, the Ministry of Neighborhood Security and Correctional Companies would not disclose, saying the case will likely be heading to a coroner’s inquest.
As with every inmate demise, it mentioned, the ministry will conduct a compulsory inside investigation to find out whether or not all insurance policies and procedures had been adopted.
Scanner know-how ‘not flawless’
However Sheard’s case is not the primary time questions have been raised concerning the accuracy of physique scanners in Ontario’s jail system.
“It is not as efficient as one would possibly hope,” lawyer Kevin Egan advised CBC Information.
Egan, based mostly in London, Ont., represented the household of Marty Tykoliz throughout a 2018 inquest into the deaths of eight inmates who overdosed at Ontario’s Hamilton-Wentworth jail between 2012 and 2016.
“I have been to various inquests the place a jury has made suggestions about upgrading the scanning gear and coaching the workers. Sadly, inquest suggestions do not have a lot enamel,” he mentioned. In his view, the province has finished little to handle the issues.
Ontario first started putting in physique scanners at its 26 grownup jails in 2016, at a price of $9.5 million, as a solution to establish contraband not detected by the then-existing safety measures. Steel-detectors, strip-searches and canine models are additionally used.
However a 2018 impartial overview of Ontario correctional services discovered that regardless of the scanning know-how, contraband together with blades, medicine and telephones continued to be smuggled into the system — partly due to the potential of human error, and partly as a result of not all who enter the services are topic to scanning. Correctional officers, for instance, should not topic to contraband searches, the ministry mentioned.
Guards obtain ‘thorough’ coaching: ministry
Ryan Graham is the co-chair of the provincial well being and security committee for the Ontario Public Service Workers Union, the union representing jail guards. He believes the scanning know-how will be “a really efficient device” however is not “infallible.”
“However it is just as efficient because the coaching of the operator,” he mentioned, noting workers who use the know-how usually develop “a eager eye to detect one thing that is misplaced, that appears international to the physique.”
Workers with much less expertise studying the scans may miss issues others would possibly spot, he acknowledged.
That is why Graham says the union has been pushing for ongoing refresher coaching — one thing the ministry has to date not dedicated to.
It should not even be known as corrections as a result of there’s nothing correctional about it presently.– Kevin Egan, lawyer
In a press release to CBC Information, a spokesperson for the ministry mentioned, “Correctional workers approved to make use of and function the entire physique x-ray safety scanning system obtain thorough on-site coaching.
“Ministry assist and sources can be found to correctional providers workers for any additional coaching or questions on facility operations,” wrote spokesperson Andrew Morrison.
Requested by CBC Information for its particular insurance policies round drug detection, the ministry declined to supply them citing “safety causes.”
Report particulars ultimate, agonizing moments
Graham says the union has additionally raised the query of whether or not Ontario jails have sufficient nursing and healthcare workers, and whether or not frontline correctional officers want additional coaching on coping with inmates with psychological and drug issues.
Sheard’s mom wonders the identical, noting there have been various crimson flags that she believes ought to have alerted jail workers to the truth that he was overdosing once more. Regardless of her son having simply returned from hospital following an overdose, being discovered “bearing down as if making an attempt to push one thing out” in accordance with the report, and vomiting — nobody on the jail appeared to appreciate what was occurring to him.
As a substitute, with Sheard bare, sweating and yelling, a nurse was known as and administered Gravol. About quarter-hour later, he was noticed on the ground once more, not responding to his identify being known as, the report notes. A guard kicked on the door and Shear groaned, reportedly making loud night breathing sounds.
“This can be a certified nurse, however she’s not recognizing all of those indicators and signs of an overdose and gave him Gravol as a substitute?” Vos mentioned.
“Everyone is aware of that the indicators and signs of an overdose are loud night breathing or showing to be loud night breathing.”
It is an all-too-familiar story for Egan, who famous Tykoliz too had been taken to hospital from jail for an overdose, and was handled and discharged, earlier than he fatally overdosed in 2014.
“We’re spending about $300 a day to warehouse inmates,” Egan mentioned, noting the provincial detention system prices Ontario taxpayers upwards of $800 million per 12 months — cash he says may very well be higher spent on rehabilitating inmates.
Trying to find consolation in reminiscences as wait continues
For now, Sheard’s mom waits as her son’s case heads to an inquest — a wait that is more likely to go on a number of months.
If something optimistic is to come back from Sheard’s demise, she says, it is that folks with psychological well being and substance issues be revered.
“I actually suppose sooner or later that jail must be a spot of sobriety, the place they will get that assist, get on that therapy,” she mentioned. “It must be a possibility to get higher … reasonably than, you recognize, fall again into that overdose disaster.”
Within the meantime, she searches for consolation within the reminiscences of Jordan completely happy and free, snowboarding and skateboarding as he liked to do, and the bond they shared even when he was struggling.
“He was a wild man on the slopes and on the rails,” Vos recalled, smiling. “He would all the time say, ‘Mother, I’ll hit that one.'”
Every time, she’d watch anxiously, hoping he would not get harm.
“However he would hit it and I might be so proud.”