Sask. Penitentiary under investigation following two inmate deaths and an alleged assault in less than a month

A second inmate has died while in custody at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary this week.

At the time of his death on Dec. 1, Raymond Stonechild had been serving an indeterminate sentence since Feb. 28, 2008, for sexual assault.

The news comes only three days after the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) revealed that Brandon Lupkoski, another inmate from the Saskatchewan Penitentiary died on Nov. 28.

As in all cases involving the death of an inmate, the CSC said they would be reviewing the circumstances behind the two incidents.

Four guards from the Saskatchewan Penitentiary are also currently on administrative leave following an assault on an Indigenous inmate that prompted an investigation by both the RCMP and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).

On Dec. 1, FSIN issued a statement of support for a mother from the Thunderchild First Nation who has expressed concern for the safety and wellbeing of her son, Kihiw, who was incarcerated at the multi-level security facility in Prince Albert.

Kihiw Fourstar told his mother, Darla, that guards beat him up and he is in danger. He said he has been threatened and suffered mental abuse and physical abuse within the walls of the prison.

According to a media release from FSIN, Darla lives in fear that guards will kill her son.

On Nov. 9, Fourstar was taken to the medical unit of the Saskatchewan Penitentiary due to an alleged assault by a group of guards; Darla indicated that her son suffered injuries as a result.

“The public should not dismiss this as a justified assault. It happened off-camera with calculated rage unleashed on a person the guards were charged with keeping safe,” said FSIN Justice and Safety Commission Chairperson and FSIN Second Vice-Chief Edward Dutch Lerat.

At the request of the Executive staff at the prison, the RCMP have initiated an investigation into the incident. The FSIN Justice Special Investigation Unit also conducted their own private investigation where it was determined the four guards suspected of committing the assault were placed on leave.

The names of the officers are not known at this time, as the facility is obligated to protect the officers’ privacy until legislation allows for their identity to be released to the public.

FSIN said they are pleased the National Commissioner and the Executive Leadership at the Sask. Penitentiary took the incident seriously and immediately suspended the officers, which was completed prior to the FSIN investigation. They were also involved in Fourstar’s transportation to Stony Mountain Institution to ensure his safety.