Jailers should be jailed for the torture of Ashley Smith
To watch the video released this week of the torture and humiliation of Ashley Smith by federal corrections staff is to witness horrifying, government-sanctioned evil.
No wonder Correctional Service Canada fought for years to block release of the video, and is desperate to limit the scope of an inquest to the week before her death, instead of the 11 months she was in custody.
She died in 2007, at age 19, by choking herself with a strip of cloth while guards, who were instructed not to intervene, stood at the door to her cell and placidly watched the life drain out of her.
The Star has been running stories about Smith and the battle to keep the videos secret for months, but I didn’t pay much attention until the film was posted on thestar.com.
It left me sputtering, sickened and furious. I don’t know how else to describe it.
My friend and colleague Rosie DiManno covered it off much better than I ever could in her column today, so I won’t go into the litany of abuse. I urge you to read Rosie’s column and watch the video.
It is terribly upsetting and will make you want to turn away, or even weep, but it must be seen to understand the tactics used in federal prisons to bring troublesome prisoners to heel.
Three points jump out at me:
- No video was released of Smith doing anything that would justify such treatment. If they had it, you can bet it would have been made public.
- The repeated injections of heavy, anti-psychotic drugs intended to pacify her – five in a seven-hour period, on one occasion – is clearly illegal. Somebody should be made to pay. And the posse of corrections staff in gas masks and riot gear that administered it remind me of stories about alien abductions. It looks eerily similar to accounts of big-eyed greys that abduct humans, induce paralysis and huddle around the victim on a gurney while an implant is forced up the person’s nose at the end of a needle.
- What does Vic Toews, the towering pillar of virtue who’s the federal minister responsible for corrections, have to say about it? Dare he defend it, as he has with other indefensible public safety measures? If he can’t say what the rest of us feel after seeing the video, he should quit right now.
Anyone who’s a parent and had a troubled teen that ended up in the corrections system would be scared to death that their child could potentially be treated like Smith.
That should be enough to create a groundswell of outrage over a government institution that apparently condones such treatment.