The following video is pretty hard hitting. It features the final moments of Ashley Smith, a 19 year old Canadian woman who was incarcerated for the crime of throwing an apple at a postman.
Ashley Smith was just 15 years of age when a 30 day sentence was handed down to her. The 30 day sentence spread to 4 years as Smith was transferred on 17 separate occasions by Corrections Canada. The transfers spanned four of the five regions of the Correctional Service of Canada.
Allison Jones, The Canadian Press [Link]
Her family argues the transfers were done perhaps to get around a rule that inmates be kept in solitary confinement for a maximum 60 days without a psychiatric assessment. A transfer resets that clock.
Ontario's Deputy Chief Coroner Dr. Bonita Porter has decided to limit the upcoming inquest into Smith's death to the 13 weeks the young woman spent in Ontario.
Porter began hearing arguments at a pre-inquest hearing Monday from Smith's family and advocates requesting the scope be expanded to the entire time she was in federal custody.
"State acts and omissions... are as significant and contributing to her death as the ligatures she was permitted to use to end her life," Falconer said.
The 17 transfers and continuous isolation had a "seriously deleterious effect" on the mental health of a girl prone to self-injurious behaviour, and the transfers made it impossible for her to obtain proper treatment, he said.
She was subject to "atrocious" conditions, including more than 150 interventions involving use of force, not enough toilet paper, not enough sanitary products when she was menstruating and not enough soap or deodorant, Falconer said.
"This is disgusting and it should all be looked at — every inch," he said.
The Moncton, N.B. woman choked herself with a strip of cloth at the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont., in October 2007.
Video evidence shows staff failed to respond immediately to the emergency.
Questions need to be asked and answered. This case should not be swept under the carpet.
The mental institutions and correctional facilities of Canada have recently been in the news.
Steve Smith, a patient who endured such barbaric treatment at Oakridge Facility in Penetanguishene.
The author of the Penetanguishene Mental Health blog writes:
When I read the PDF file about the "capsule program" administered in part by Dr. Elliott Barker It sickened me but to read it directly from Steve Smith is nothing short of horrifying. I wanted to talk to him directly. What was true? What had been grossly exaggerated on the world wide web, documentaries, news programs.... if anything at all? What in the name of god did he do to deserve this?
Smith and I corresponded over a period of about 8 weeks... maybe more. Initially there was a trust issue. I did not know him, he did not know me. I wanted the story. He wants justice. I want justice too but in the last few years I have come to realize that the business of psychiatry is so incredibly corrupt, self serving and profitable... justice takes years if ever.
In an email exchange with Steve Smith, I asked him if he was familiar with the Ashley Smith story, he told me:
"The Ashley Smith story makes me cry just thinking about it as I feel a strong connection with her." He added, "I know exactly how she felt as she lay dying."
Also in recent news, 22 year old patient Kulmiye Aganeh died while in the care of Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre, run by the government of Ontario. Some believe this facility is unfit for human habitation and one of the most barbaric treatment centers in Canada.
Kulmiye had been held involuntarily at Penetanguishene Mental Health Centre for 15 months. Prior to that, he was held at the Whitby Mental Health Centre for a period of 2 years, all the while his doctors experimented with medications that did not make him better but made him more depressed and more vulnerable. He was scared, isolated and lonely. He was also at the mercy of the staff at Penetanguishene. He had been transferred from a minimum security mental health facility in Whitby to Penetanguishene's maximum security facility because he did not agree with the medication and treatment they were subjecting him to. He believed the drugs were making him ill, and they were!
Kulmiye had been admitted to the facility for treatment as a result of stealing a car. [LINK]
Canada has never seemed so uninviting... and that's coming from someone who wants to live and work there!
The video [below] is not for the faint hearted. It's truly shocking and shows the final minutes of Ashley Smith's young life.
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