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Canadian Prisoner Dies After Drinking Drug-Laced Vomit, Others Charged

Canadian Prisoner Dies After Drinking
Drug-Laced Vomit, Others Charged

by Michael Rigby

Prisoners at the Pine Grove Correctional Centre in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan (Canada) have been drinking each other's drug-laced vomit in order to get high. One woman has died as a result of this gut-wrenching practice, and three others have been charged with drug trafficking.

Sonia Faith Keepness, 37, was found dead in her cell at the Pine Grove women's prison on February, 19, 2002. She had just begun a 19 month sentence for possession of criminal proceeds and drug trafficking. A Coroner's inquest determined that Keepness likely died from ingesting a lethal combination of methadone and librium.

Keepness apparently drank two hits of methadone-laced vomit and took 4 pills of librium, a tranquilizing drug, the day she died. Fellow prisoners Candace Dawn Ahenakew and Tanya Mae Cappo (who was Keepness's aunt) admitted that after receiving their daily dose of methadone, the two returned to their cells and regurgitated their stomach contents into a container for Keepness.

Methadone is a potent narcotic painkiller sometimes prescribed to drug addicts because it alleviates the unpleasant symptoms associated with the withdrawal from heroin, morphine and other opiates. At the Pine Grove infirmary, prisoners in the methadone program receive a daily dose of the drug mixed with orange juice.

Though it sounds disturbing, prisoners routinely traded their methadone-laced vomit for certain favors from other prisoners, said Prince Albert City Police Staff Sgt. John Hareuther at the inquest.

According to Ahenakew, women at the jail were so desperate to get high they would do anything. "Methadone is a powerful drug. They wanted to get high and they were desperate enough to drink someone's puke," she says.

Ahenakew and Cappo were charged with trafficking methadone to Keepness. Charges were brought against a third prisoner, Redenah Faith Thomas, for providing Keepness with the librium.

Cappo was sentenced on March 22, 2003, to 53 days for her part in Keepness's death. She received time served. The sentences of the other two women are unknown.

Pine Grove guard Katie Samson admitted during the inquest that she had been aware of possible methadone abuse at the jail for months before Keepness died.

Ray Keepness, one of Sonia's sons, is upset that nothing was done. "It was commonly known throughout the jail by the staff and inmates," he said. "You know it should've been brought to the attention of the jail director."

Terry Lang, assistant deputy minister for Corrections and Public Safety, said that Keepness's death has led to changes in the jail's methadone program. Prisoners are now required to remain under observation for one hour after ingesting their daily dose.

Sources:, CBC Saskatchewan, Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Prince Albert Daily Herald, Saskatchewan News Network

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