WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this story contains images of people who have died
Prison officers were watching movies and relaxing when an Indigenous teenager fatally self-harmed in youth detention.
Officers discovered 16-year-old Cleveland Dodd unresponsive in a cell at the Unit 18 facility at Perth’s Casuarina Prison in the early hours of October 12, after he twice contacted them through the intercom.
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He was taken to hospital in a critical condition, where he later died, causing outrage and grief in the community.
West Australian Corrective Services Minister Paul Papalia on Friday released the interim report of an internal investigation which he said had uncovered significant failures.
“Operational procedures were not followed on the night,” he told reporters.
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“Record keeping was poor and not up to standard.”
Papalia said Cleveland was not placed under observation despite making self-harm threats and staff checking inmates were not carrying radios.
“Two of the five staff required to wear body-worn cameras on the night did not sign out their devices,” he said.
Papalia said it was also found that “staff were resting or watching movies at the time Cleveland self-harmed”.
“None of these things are acceptable,” he said.
“Collectively, they are disturbing and confirm the need for significant cultural change.”
Cleveland Dodd, 16, died in hospital after self-harming in youth detention. Credit: AAP
Cleveland’s death is being investigated by the coroner and the Corruption and Crime Commission has also started inquiries following allegations of serious misconduct.
The corrective services commissioner has been replaced and a prison officer has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation into Cleveland’s death.
Papalia said Unit 18 would close as soon as a suitable replacement facility could be provided but declined to put a timeline on the closure.
First Nations people seeking mental health support should contact Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander crisis support line 13YARN on 13 92 76 or 13yarn.org.au.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
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