Jay Maree Harmer's death in jail is the subject of an inquest and discussion about prison healthcare. (File)
Jay Maree Harmer's death in jail is the subject of an inquest and discussion about prison healthcare. (File) Kat Smith

She was only 38. Why did she die so young?

JAY Maree Harmer was found dead in jail one morning after applying for special parole in a prison that did not provide palliative care. She was 38.

At the inquest into her death, it emerged that the increase in sick elderly sex offenders in prison is straining the healthcare system.

Ipswich woman Ms Harmer was hooked on heroin at 13, in and out of court as an adult, and sick with cirrhosis in her thirties. She was found dead on July 2, 2016.

Prison healthcare was among issues discussed at her inquest at Brisbane Coroners Court on Wednesday.

Peter Shields of Parole Board Queensland said older people being jailed for past sex offences were adding pressure to prison healthcare systems.

He said it could be difficult finding suitable accommodation for them and "significant amounts of money" were needed to "unlock accommodation".

He said several government departments were looking into the issue.

The court heard that if someone needed palliative care their risk to the community was minimal.

Ms Harmer was a Brisbane Women's Prison inmate.

The prison had no full-time palliative care unit.

The inquest heard that prisoners in a situation such as Ms Harmer was had two options.

They could be treated at Princess Alexandra Hospital or ask for special circumstances parole.

Ms Harmer's application for special parole was deferred while medical opinion was sought.

She asked to go back to prison instead of staying in hospital.

The Harmer family barrister Janice Crawford said the request to go back to prison "did not indicate a refusal of nursing support".

The inquest heard Ms Harmer had hepatic encephalopathy, where brain function suffered because the liver was not properly removing blood toxins.

She was not a liver transplant candidate.

Another witness said overnight medical observations were not routine, but only done if part of a care plan.

The inquest heard a possible recommendation would be for the state government to review the palliative care system in prisons.

The role of 24-hour nursing may also be examined.

State Coroner Terry Ryan is expected to release his findings at a later date. -NewsRegional



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