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Ashley Smith and mental health in Canadian prisons

As the inquest into Ashley Smith's death resumes this week CBC's the Current looks at the intersection of mental illness and Canada's criminal justice system
Ashley Smith is shown in this still image taken from a coroner's video. The effects of long-term solitary confinement and repeated transfers are among issues that must be explored at an inquest into the death of Smith, a deeply troubled teenager who died in custody after repeated episodes of self-harm, the presiding coroner has decided. (Canadian Press)

A video shows a teenage Ashley Smith heavily restrained on a prison transfer flight, her face covered with two hoods. Later scenes show her surrounded by guards in gas masks and riot gear that prompted federal officials to stop their efforts to restrain the scope of an inquest that resumes this week.

Smith was 19 when she choked to death after wrapping a ligature around her neck in a Kitchener, Ont., prison five years ago as guards, who say they had been instructed not to intervene, stood watch outside her cell.

The New Brunswick teen was initially incarcerated as a young offender, but was later transferred to the federal system. In the year before her death, Smith was transferred 17 times between nine institutions across the country.

The questions about her death have raised wider issues.

The Current looks at the intersection of mental illness and Canada's criminal justice system.