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Pine Grove Correctional Centre

Prince Albert inmate sentenced for trafficking

Pine Grove correctional centrePRINCE ALBERT, SK -- A woman accused of trafficking methadone, via vomit, in connection with the death of a fellow inmate at the Pine Grove women's correctional facility pleaded guilty to the charge and received her sentence Wednesday.

Tanya Mae Cappo, 23, received time served -- 53 days -- from Judge Terry Bekolay in Prince Albert provincial court for her role in the death of Sonia Faith Keepness, 37, on Feb. 19.

Keepness, who is Cappo's aunt, was found dead in her cell that day after ingesting the methadone-laced vomit of two inmates. Cappo was one of them.

According to Crown prosecutor Fran Atkinson, some Pinegrove inmates on the methadone program would get the drug in liquid form from a nurse at the jail clinic, drink it, then vomit their stomach contents into containers. The potent pain-relieving drug, which is used as a substitute for morphine or heroin.

The vomit would then be given to other inmates in return for certain favours.

Few details known about inmate's death, even after investigation

PRINCE ALBERT, SK. - The internal investigation into the death of an inmate at a Prince Albert Jail is complete, but don't expect to read the results ever.

Sonia Keepness was found dead at Pine Grove Correctional Centre last month. Saskatchewan Justice launched an immediate internal investigation into the 37-year-old woman's death, and the results are being reviewed now.

"I'm going through the draft report and once that is complete, it will then be sent to the director of the Correctional Centre to respond to the findings and recommendations," says the executive director of Corrections, Don Head.

The public will never see the recommendations for change at Pine Grove, however.

Head says he can't talk about the investigation because of security and privacy concerns.

We do know that the criminal investigation into Sonia Keepness's death has uncovered a thriving illegal drug trade. Three inmates at Pine Grove are accused of selling drugs in the jail the day that Keepness was found dead.

Police still don't know how the young woman died, however, and a coroner's inquest will be held to determine that.

Addicted inmates take desperate route for fix

Woman dies of apparent overdose at institution

Drug-addicted women inside Prince Albert's Pine Grove Correctional Centre have been drinking each other's vomit in a desperate effort to get high off a dangerous prescription drug administered to some inmates, The StarPhoenix has learned.

The shocking story emerged after a 37-year-old inmate, Sonia Faith Keepness, died of an apparent overdose last month.

Keepness, who had just started serving a 19-month sentence for drug trafficking and possession of criminal proceeds, was found dead in her cell at about 6:50 p.m. on Feb. 19.

A source inside the institution said Keepness consumed the vomit of another inmate -- an addict on the methadone program who had just been given her daily dose of the drug.

"I know that's what happened," said the source, who asked not to be identified. "The whole building knows about it. That's how she died."

Methadone is a powerful narcotic analgesic painkiller prescribed by doctors as a replacement for illicit morphine, heroin and other opiates, because it alleviates withdrawal symptoms.

The drug is always mixed with a small amount of orange juice before it is dispensed to addicts.

Because one dose can kill an adult who has not been weaned onto the medication by a doctor, many methadone patients -- including those who are in jail -- are required to drink it under a pharmacist's supervision.

Inmates forcing other inmates to throw up their daily dose, and then drinking or selling the liquid, sounds unbelievable but happens frequently, the source said.

A spokesperson for the provincial Justice Department, which oversees the facility, would not comment on the source's allegation, because the investigation into Keepness's death is ongoing. However, Jeff Bohach confirmed the jail has changed its procedures regarding methadone patients since Keepness's death.

Rather than allowing inmates back into the population a few minutes after drinking their dose, medical staff "will monitor the patient for one hour after they receive their methadone," Bohach said.

Police and provincial Corrections officials are still waiting for autopsy and toxicology results in connection with Keepness's death.

As well, an inquest has been ordered, as is standard procedure after an inmate dies in a correctional institution.

No date has been set for the hearing.

Two inmates, 30-year-old Candace Dawn Ahenakew and 24-year-old Redenah Faith Thomas, have been accused of selling or giving drugs to Keepness the day she died.

Ahenakew is accused of trafficking methadone, and Thomas is charged with trafficking marijuana and Librium, a common tranquilizer. Both appeared in Prince Albert provincial court earlier this week.

Prince Albert police would not confirm or deny the vomit story, because the investigation is ongoing.

Tim Krause, a spokesperson for Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) said staff inside the federally run Saskatchewan Penitentiary have heard of inmates in other facilities obtaining drugs by drinking vomit. No such incident has ever been reported inside the penitentiary, he said.

Inmates on the methadone program in the penitentiary are kept away from other inmates for five to 10 minutes after taking their dose in front of medical staff.

After hearing about the alleged incident at Pine Grove, CSC will take a second look at its practice, Krause said.