Jurors request changes following Fort Smith inmate’s death
The NWT’s Office of the Chief Coroner has released a verdict and jurors’ recommendations following an inquest into the death of Marty Bouvier in Fort Smith’s men’s jail.
Bouvier died alone in his cell in the early morning of November 22, 2021.
After an inquest on February 14, the jurors in Fort Smith – Jessica Cox, Dallas Phillips, Savannah St Jean, Jim Hood, Kris Lantz, and Lorell Gauthier – made nine recommendations aimed at preventing more deaths of inmates in custody at the Fort Smith Correctional Complex.
All of the recommendations were directed toward the territorial justice department’s corrections service.
The jurors called on the service to provide supervisors at the facility with specific training and mentorship. They also said all staff who work directly with inmates should be certified in First Aid and CPR training as well as trained on the modified scale for suicide ideation.
Staff at the correctional complex should also be trained on how to communicate effectively and how to report on events that are triggering and stressful for inmates, jurors said, adding that once this information is logged in the corrections offender management system, all staff should have the necessary log-in credentials and know how to use the system.
They also suggested shifts be scheduled with a minimum of 15 minutes of overlap to ensure there is time for staff to share information and review updates made in the corrections offender management system.
Jurors said the territorial government should “provide clear direction to all staff … that they are not permitted to engage in non-work-related activities during the night shift” within 30 days of the recommendations, which were dated February 16.
They also said that within the next month, the corrections service should tell staff that inmates cannot obstruct their cell windows.
“If the window is obstructed from the inside, the obstruction must be removed immediately,” wrote the six jurors.
Finally, they said the Fort Smith Correctional Complex should be staffed with two corrections officers and one corrections supervisor during the night shift.