An inmate at the Toronto South Detention Centre said he spent two weeks with untreated broken bones and alleges cruel and unusual punishment by court and jail staff.
The inmate, whom CityNews is calling “AJ” to protect his identity, claimed he broke several bones as a result of a fight in the building under the College Park courthouse at the end of July. However, he claimed court staff did not address his request to go to hospital for treatment.
“They stopped the fight and asked if I wanted medical treatment for my hand,” said AJ. “I replied, ‘Yes, I’d love to get out of here for a bit. Please take me to the hospital.’ Then they told me, ‘There’s no getting out of here,’ and put me back in cells.”
Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray confirmed AJ’s account of the fight on July 31, however, she said court staff told her AJ refused medical care.
“Both men were offered, and declined, police involvement and medical attention,” she said in a statement to CityNews. “The supervisor reported seeing no injuries.”
AJ said over the next several weeks he saw a jail house doctor who told him he needed an X-ray. He said that didn’t happen.
“Two weeks and nothing happened,” he said. “How does two weeks go by and nothing? My hand just left dangling, broken.”
AJ’s lawyer, Ray Buchan, said when he went to see his client for a scheduled bail hearing on Aug. 11, his hand looked swollen and discoloured. Buchan asked that AJ’s condition be put on the record during the bail hearing and that the injury occurred in the cells at College Park.
“At that time the Crown attorney, to his credit, stood up and walked over and viewed my clients hand,” said Buchan. “Then went on the record and indicated that he saw the same swelling and discolouration and a whiteness to it that looked like it was lacking circulation. The justice of the peace asked him if he thought it was acute, and he said he did.”
The justice of the peace then ordered that AJ be taken to a hospital, but Buchan said that request was ignored by court officers.
“A lot of people come in here with broken arms and legs. The only time we do something is when somebody can’t breathe or it’s a life and death situation,” AJ recalled a court officer telling him.
Buchan said three days later, AJ’s hand was in even worse condition.
AJ was released on bail and by Monday evening, his arm was in a sling and he had several follow-up appointments lined up.
“I told (correctional staff) every day that it was hurting me. It’s changing colours. Just because I’m not constantly crying doesn’t mean I’m not in pain”, AJ explained.
The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services said in a statement that while it does not publicly address individual cases, especially where personal health matters are involved, “all inmates have access to health care services.”
While the the ministry’s statement lists medical staff available on site at all 26 correctional facilities, there is no mention of X-rays.
The ministry said it will investigate any allegations of improper care and custody of an inmate.
“I just hope it all turns out for the best and that being untreated for two and a half weeks doesn’t cause permanent problems for him,” Buchan said