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PRCC fatality inquiry finds need for regular showers, effective monitoring

Regular showers should be considered a basic requirement or right. That’s the finding of a public fatality inquiry into the death of a Spirit River man at Peace River Correctional Centre.

Brent Matkowski was an inmate there on March 12, 2012, when he hanged himself in his cell. He had been at the jail for four days, after having been taken in on a warrant for failing to appear at his sentencing for a January 2006 sexual assault.

At the time of his death, Matkowski was in an isolation cell. He had been placed there for monitoring, as a nurse believed he was suffering from alcohol withdrawal. An officer found him hanging from his bathroom door hinges, which were supposed to be suicide-proof.

The inquiry was held on April 4, 2017, and the findings were just made public. Justice Claus Thietke didn’t make any recommendations, but noted that Matkowski hadn’t been given the opportunity to shower regularly, which could negatively affect someone’s mental health.

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Thietke also recognized that there was low lighting in the cell, and that its observation window was hard to see through, so the door’s window was typically used. He suggests if monitoring is required, conditions should make it meaningful and effective.

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