Ashley Smith Homicide

Ashley Smith was a troubled young woman who was allowed to choke herself to death while Correctional Officers looked on with orders not to intervene. I use enough words so I will leave it to Google for the details. This note addresses those responsible for what a jury has now deemed a homicide. One of these people needs to relinquish their uniform for an orange jumpsuit.

It appears you are in a pickle. Those people you thought had no rights are still recognized as human by law. Those being detained are specifically mentioned in the wording of failing to provide the necessities of life. I think you all might want to duck on this one. It is a heartless concession to have those responsible transferred or even terminated but it is poetic justice if you find yourself asking for a request form from the other side of the bars. You will come to appreciate your influence on conditions within institutions. You will also have sense for the regard the justice system will give you. On your journey consider what those same experiences might be like for someone with a mental illness.

We see the Correctional Officers outside Ashley Smith’s cell but the orders come from faces quite hidden. If an officer follows such an order he is compliant in his own submission to hierarchy. That person is a mindless pawn and is sadly led by authority through the curtain of the inhumane. Their adherence to the chain of command even as it means the death of a fellow human is insanely sad. This game of crests, badges and colours is worse than childlike if it results in inhumanity. If you respect your boss to the point of letting someone die you deserve none yourself. And your wage is worthless as it will never buy a lawful excuse for doing so. There should be no chain of command when it comes to decency.

Here in Ontario we have a Humane Society to prevent and prosecute the mistreatment of animals. I could call them tomorrow and say my neighbour has a starving dog tied to a tree and they would send out an officer to investigate. In jail when an inmate is being mistreated they can obtain a “blue letter”. It requires no stamp and can be sealed to override the censor system of the jail. Ironically the guard you have an issue with could be the one who sees it into the mail. This letter goes to the Ombudsman in another city and at times action is taken. My dance with the Ombudsman was weeks in the works and would have been most pointless for someone like Ashley Smith. We need an effective way to ensure mentally ill offenders are dealt with the protections we gladly apply to animals. And we need to come to terms with the fact that an offender may be broken but they are not worthless. Furthermore, I would suggest that those involved trade their uniforms for underwear. It’s the best place for what you most resemble.

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