The exquisite value of democracy is that Ashley Smith had the same ease of access to her human rights in Canada as any other girl because she was Canadian. Unfortunately, as Howard Sapers has discovered, Ashley was denied her rights. There is ample evidence and it has not been a secret. Recordings of Ashley’s desperate appeals for understanding and help have been broadcast by the media on a number of occasions. The Elizabeth Fry Society has been publicly advocating her cause.
Now that she is dead, it becomes an exercise in damage control to minimize the inquiry into why. Why is she dead? The Ombudsman has already raised his concerns. “She is just one of many.” The Coroner’s decision to limit the scope of the inquiry is very unfortunate and raises questions about what reasons would justify official concealment of the facts. The hard fact is that there were a number of inquests into the deaths of young people in the care of the state in the decade of the 1990’s.
A boy died screaming for help because he was being beaten to death by his cellmate, a girl was smothered when staff sat on her for maximum control her, a very disturbed young man found hanging in his cell could not be cut down until all the cell doors in the unit had been locked one by one for security. The stories haunt those of us who heard them from the witness stand but have brought little shame or horror from the Canadian public. We still believe that detention homes and jails are the cure for anti-social behaviour.
Ashley’s story must be told over and over again until taxpayers and politicians come to realise how destructive our present correctional institutions have been to many of the individuals who have been sent to them for “care.”
From Defence for Children International – Canada