Ashley Smith Inquest began last week

The coroner’s inquest into the death of Ashley Smith resumed in Toronto on Monday January 14th, 2013.   An earlier inquest was discontinued after the retirement of the first coroner.

Ashley Smith died tragically at the age of 19 inside her cell at Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, after spending many months in segregation (solitary confinement). At the age of 13, Ms. Smith became involved with the youth criminal justice system. Prior to her death, she spent time in a number of federal and provincial correctional facilities and struggled with mental health issues while in jail.  The young woman died after tying a ligature around her neck while guards, instructed not to intervene before she stopped breathing, watched.

Public inquests are held when an inmate dies in custody and serve two important functions: to determine the facts surrounding an inmate’s death and, where possible, to prevent similar deaths from occurring in the future. The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is participating in the inquest as a party in order to ensure that there is a full public accounting of the circumstances surrounding Ms. Smith’s death.  CCLA also has experience in ensuring that adequate oversight of government and authorities, and accountability mechanisms are in place to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all people, including the right to life.  Meaningful and transparent oversight is essential to ensure that prisons operate within the law.

Please stay tuned for further updates regarding the inquest on our website.

CCLA is represented at the Inquest by Allison Thornton of Koch Thornton LLP.

The proceedings of the inquest are being broadcast live via webcam and are available at the following link: http://www.mcscs.jus.gov.on.ca/english/DeathInvestigations/office_coroner/PublicInquest/OCC_inquest_stream.html

Click here to read more about our past work on this issue.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Allison Thornton, special counsel for CCLA at the Inquest, a partner at Koch Thornton LLP

email:    allison.thornton@ktbarristers.com

phone: 416-216-0225

(In the alternative, please contact Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Director of CCLA’s Equality Program, at mendelsohnaviv@ccla.org or 647-780-9802)