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Pilot project to treat female inmates with serious mental problems

OTTAWA (NEWS1130) – The federal government is starting a pilot project to deal with female prison inmates with serious mental health needs.

It’s a response to the death of teenager Ashley Smith, who choked to death in a cell as guards at an Ontario prison watched.

The project involves the Royal Ottawa health care group’s Brockville Mental Health Centre, which will set aside beds for troubled female offenders.

L’Institut Philippe Pinel in Montreal and East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth, NS are also taking part.

The Public Safety Department says recent statistics show that at admission, 13 per cent of male offenders and 29 per cent of women offenders in federal custody self-identified as having mental health needs.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney says the project will expand the system’s ability to deal with the most troubled inmates.