Correctional Officers Charged with Killing of Matthew Hines

The tragic death of Matthew Hines in 2015, a 33 year-old from Cape Breton with a history of mental health challenges, could lead to the first trial in Canada involving two correctional officers for their alleged part in an inmates’ death.

On Wednesday, January 3, 2018, correctional officers, Alvida Ross, 48, and Mathieu Bourgoin, 31, were charged with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death, by the RCMP.

On May 27, 2015, at New Brunswick’s Dorchester Penitentiary, Hines died of beating and suffocating from being repeatedly pepper sprayed by the two prison guards, after refusing to leave his cell while experiencing some signs of distress. Instead of being given medical attention, Hines was pepper sprayed in the face at least four times, with only seconds between each burst.

On May 2 2017, an investigation by Canada’s official Correctional Investigator, Dr. Ivan Zinger, found that:

    • Correctional Service Canada (CSC’) ordered bloodstains to be cleaned after Hines’s death, “compromising the preservation of a potential crime scene.”
    • Given the catastrophic breakdown in the staff response in this case, it is appropriate to review and question the adequacy and appropriateness of CSC staff investigating and disciplining itself.

Correctional Service Canada apologized to Hines’s family after Dr. Zinger’s investigation, and for the first time, acknowledged that Hines’s death was preventable. CSC has since also admitted that there was “staff misconduct” involved in Hines’s death.

Julian Falconer, has represented, among others, the families of Robert Gentles and Ashley Smith, who died in custody at Kingston Penitentiary in 1993, and Grand Valley Institution for Women in 2007, respectively. Falconer recently commented on Hines’ case, pointing out that, within corrections, use of serious and sometimes lethal force is systemic. He sees a lack of accountability within Correctional Service Canada that makes it difficult to investigate what goes on behind bars.

Falconer also stated, “I don’t find any of this a surprise because not a single serious measure to change how Correctional Service Canada does business has been undertaken by this government or undertaken during the course of my career.”

“You have guards inflicting enough force to now merit them being charged. The scene is cleaned up, blood is cleaned up. Inexplicable. Obviously, there’s a deep rooted problem at Correctional Service Canada in the culture, in the leadership. It needs to be fixed.” Falconer said.

In the News

Charges in death of federal inmates rare and usually don’t go to trial    CBC, January 4, 2018

Information Morning – Fredericton: Julian Falconer – Guards – Audio Link   CBC, January 5, 2018

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