• File image of empty prison cell. (Pixabay)Source: Pixabay
The 19-year-old man passed away last week at a prison in the state’s north- west.
Rangi Hirini

9 May 2018 - 11:43 AM  UPDATED 9 May 2018 - 11:43 AM

West Australian police are currently investigating the death of a 19-year-old Aboriginal man who died at West Kimberley Regional prison, near Derby in the state’s north.

It’s believed the death occurred last week after the inmate collapsed suddenly at 4.45pm on Thursday.

"Prison health staff immediately attended the medical emergency and being unable to detect a pulse on the offender, provided CPR while an ambulance was on route," a Corrective Services spokesman said in a statement.

The man was taken to Derby Hospital by paramedics where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later at 5.26PM.

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Change the Record, an organisation that aims to decrease the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prison population labelled the incident as a "tragedy".

“The number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths in custody has climbed because governments have failed to prevent the over-imprisonment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Prisons are destroying the lives and futures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, families and communities,” Change the Record Co-Chair Damian Griffis told NITV News.

Change the Record acknowledged they don’t know the circumstances of the young man’s death but have called for action.

“Governments need to be doing all they can to prevent our people going into prison. In WA that means the Attorney-General needs to repeal mandatory sentencing immediately,” Mr Griffis continued.

Amnesty International also called for more action in the state. 

“The Western Australian Government must work to reform the justice system towards a focus on prevention, and fund Indigenous-led prevention and diversion programs,” a spokesperson told NITV in a statement.

“Only through a model of prevention and not detention will WA end the soaring rates it locks up Indigenous people, and reduce the number of lives lost in custody.”

The Department of Corrective Services expressed their condolences to the family and friends of the young man.

An investigation is being conducted by the West Australian Police, on behalf of the Coroner, to determine the cause of death.

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