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New inmate dies after spending three hours at jail

Janis Leering: The Mirror
October 3, 2003

A young inmate is dead after being sent to the Penetanguishene jail.
Joseph Balog, 20, from Barrie, was being booked at the jail when he experienced health problems.

"He was a new admission (to the jail) and was still in the booking process when he went into distress," said Doug Thomson, facility administrator of the Central North Correctional Centre.

After being in a Barrie court on Monday, Balog arrived at the jail at 5:20 p.m. Balog was in court for weapons and drug-related charges, and Thomson said he had an extensive history of drug use.

Thomson said when Balog showed up, he was fine, but his family had spoken of health concerns to staff.

He was taken to Huronia District Hospital in Midland at 8:20 p.m., and was pronounced dead within two hours. Thomson did not wish to speculate how Balog died.

"He was still in the booking area, he was going through the normal admitting process. He was only here for three hours."

Thomson said once the inmates give specific information to jail staff, they are given a shower and strip search, then changed into an orange uniform. Thomson added there are many orifices where things can be hidden, so a strip search is necessary.

He admitted this is the third death in the past five months, but said in his 25 years of experience, each situation is different.

"Issues have happened, and they will continue to occur. It's hard to predict death, even out in society, whether it's an overdose or suicide."

The jail and the Southern Georgian Bay OPP are investigating the incident.

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