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Ashley Smith Inquest(s)


Smith as a fourteen-year-old placed in a youth facility for one month in 2003 after throwing crab apples at the mailman.

Her initial one-month sentence would last almost four years due to misconduct additions to her sentence, almost entirely in isolation until her suicide in 2007.

Often violent and unpredictable, her behaviours and the force required to intervene were frequently filmed and recorded, then listed on daily logs.

Behaviour which Smith exhibited included but are not limited to flinging of fecal matter and many attempts at choking herself into unconsciousness. Guards responding to her were often attacked by Smith, sometimes with weapons she had manufactured and concealed.

Escalation of her behaviour continued until Smith took her own life by a ligature while guards looked on for approximately 45 minutes before intervening.

Smith received minimal (at best) attention to her psychological state and the reason why her behaviour had deteriorated. Rather than the justice system helping Smith with her behaviour and changing her ways through rehabilitative methods, the approach to Smith was restricted to confinement and containment of the damage she perpetrated. While spending most of her time in youth facilities in isolation, once transferred to adult facilities after turning 18, Smith was transferred 17 times between 8 different facilities as most facilities mandated a maximum amount of time an inmate can be forced to spend time in an isolation unit before being deemed 'cruel and unusual punishment'. Thus, smith spent few days out of isolation after turning 18 and eventually took her own life on October 16, 2007 at the age of 19 years, 8.5 months old (a year and a half in adult prison).


(1) Is there a systemic issue with the Correctional System in Canada where inmates are not receiving adequate support/treatment for basic humane treatment (from ensuring mere survival to promoting rehabilitation)?
(2) If so, what are the ramifications for inadequate system?
(3) Are these ramifications sufficiently significant to warrant changes to the justice system? i.e. corrections, sentencing, fundamental principles of justice etc.



While not a court case, this ordeal has had a major impact on legislation, sentencing, and policy approaches to law.


The justice system does have systemic issues that fails many Canadian citizens who are incarcerated who require the infrastructure and expertise of the justice system to address/compensate for psychological issues and subsequent deviant behaviour.

The justice system, from corrections to lawyers and the courts, have had brought to their attention these shortcomings. Recently, this awareness has come to be a focal issue in the future betterment of the justice system regarding the adequate treatment necessary for inmates.

The courts have come under greater scrutiny regarding the sentencing of individuals to appropriate facilities and punishment. Specifically what the issues and challenges of convicted individuals are faced with and what the best sentence would be for both them and society, with a focus on rehabilitation and humane treatment.


Failure of justice system to facilitate the humane treatment and rehabilitation of inmates.

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