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188 inmates died in B.C. prisons over last decade, coroner reports

Majority attributed to natural causes, followed by suicide and toxic drug ingestion
The Matsqui Institution, a part of the Matsqui prison complex, is pictured in Abbotsford. Between 2013 and 2023, the BC Coroners Service says 188 inmates died in correctional facilities in B.C. (Vikki Hopes/Black Press Media)

The BC Coroners Service says 188 inmates died inside correctional facilities over the last decade, with the highest annual number of them all recorded in 2023.

The service released preliminary data from 2013 to 2023 on Thursday (May 23), showing an average of 17 inmates have died in provincial or federal prisons in B.C. each year. That number jumped to 22 in both 2021 and 2022 and went even higher last year, to 25 deaths.

The majority of inmates (113 people) died from natural causes, according to the coroner’s report, but 14 died by suicide and 12 died from toxic drug ingestion. Another five deaths were classified as accidental, three were undetermined and four were homicides.

Male inmates made up all but three of the deaths, with a single female inmate dying in each of 2013, 2014 and 2017.

Among federal facilities, the highest deaths were recorded at Pacific Institution in Abbotsford, with 64 deaths, and Mission Institution, with 15 deaths. In provincial facilities, North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam saw the highest number of deaths at 23, followed by Surrey Pretrial Services Centre with 20 deaths.

More to come.

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