Troubled teenager Ashley Smith choked herself to death in 2007 with pieces of a bedsheet in a prison segregation cell, while her guards — ordered not to intervene so long as she was still breathing — watched and videotaped.
A coroner’s jury deemed the 19-year-old’s death a homicide. Originally locked away for minor offenses, the girl was moved from institution to institution, spending a total of two full years in solitary confinement leading up to her grisly death.
A year later, Canada’s Conservative-led government rejected the jury’s key recommendation that indefinite solitary confinement — a practice so destructive to the human psyche that almost half of prison suicides happen there — be banned.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Canada’s prison problems.