Ashley Smith Jury Should See Blunt Video: Family

Mar 1st 2011 – 8:22AM
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CBC News
The family of a New Brunswick teen who strangled herself in an Ontario prison while guards looked on says an upcoming coroner's inquest should include key video of the teen being restrained and injected with anti-psychotic drugs.

Ashley Smith choked herself to death with a piece of cloth in a federal prison cell in Kitchener, Ont., in October 2007.

The coroner's inquest, set to begin April 4 in Toronto, will examine factors that may have impacted Smith's state of mind, coroner Bonita Porter said in November.

However, Smith's mother, Coralee Smith, has been told the inquest won't include a video showing Smith being forcibly restrained and injected with anti-psychotic drugs at a federal prison in Joliette, Que., three months before she died.

"I think everyone in the world should see it ... to know what's happening inside to these people," Smith's mother said.

The coroner's office declined to comment on Monday, but has signalled it will rely on written reports and witness accounts of the incident in Quebec, CBC's Dave Seglins reported.

Richard Macklin, a lawyer for Ontario's child and youth advocate office, is joining the family in demanding the coroner reconsider.

"No inquest is of any use to anybody unless both sides of the picture are presented," said Macklin.

"Ms. Smith was a hard-to-handle inmate, and the inquest jury is going to get plenty of information about that," he said. "On the other hand, Corrections Canada contributed to her being a hard-to-handle inmate."

The Smith family plans to file legal motions Tuesday arguing that any inquest that ignores those videos will fail to expose the role prison officials may have played in their daugther's downward spiral.

Smith was in solitary confinement - and on suicide watch - when she strangled herself with a piece of cloth at the Grand Valley Institute for Women.

The 19-year-old had been transferred 17 times between institutions in the final year of her life, and spent most days in isolation, shackled and handcuffed.
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