Saturday, February 27, 2021

Province requests review after woman found frozen days after release from Pine Grove

Province requests review after woman found frozen days after release from Pine Grove

The review into Kimberley Squirrel’s release would be in addition to ongoing investigations by Saskatoon police and the provincial coroner’s office.

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The Saskatchewan government has requested a review into the circumstances surrounding the release of a 34-year-old woman whose frozen body was found three days after she was let out of Pine Grove Correctional Centre.

Kimberly Squirrel, who had been in remand custody at the centre, was found dead in Saskatoon on Jan. 23.

Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Christin Tell said in a written statement that a review was requested both by herself and Minister of Justice and Attorney General Gordon Wyant.

Corrections spokesman Noel Busse said the requested review would be internal, and in addition to ongoing investigations by the Saskatoon city police and provincial coroner’s office, Tell wrote.

Busse said Squirrel was released from remand on Jan. 20 and “escorted by correctional staff to a bus leaving Prince Albert for Saskatoon. As part of her release conditions, she provided a residence to the court that she would be staying at.”

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Squirrel’s sister identified her as the woman whose frozen body was found near Avenue Q South and 18th Street West in Saskatoon, CBC Saskatoon reported this week. The intersection sits on the border between the Pleasant Hill and West Industrial neighbourhoods.

Squirrel’s sister told CBC the family had not been notified of Squirrel’s release from Pine Grove, and it’s unclear what happened between her release and her death.

Attempts by The StarPhoenix to speak with Squirrel’s family have been unsuccessful.

Saskatoon police previously said the woman officers located on the night of Jan. 23 was found frozen. Environment Canada records show overnight temperatures at the time reached a low of -33 C, not including the wind chill factor. Police have said the cause of death is not yet known, but that it has been deemed “non-criminal” in nature.

The Coroners Service has said an autopsy was completed, but the results are not yet available. It can take between four and six months to complete and confirm autopsy results.

Busse said the corrections ministry’s ability to provide programming to people on remand is “extremely limited” since their cases are still before the courts. He said they can contact their lawyers, elders, chaplains or other professionals, as well as family and friends.

“It is up to the individual to decide what level of involvement their family may have in their release,” he wrote.

Release conditions for remand inmates are set out by the court and often require remanded inmates to have a set place of residence, dependent on individual circumstances, he added.

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— With StarPhoenix files from Zak Vescera

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