Ashley Smith orders misunderstood by staff, official says
Ken Allen was responsible for 'use-of-force' reports at Grand Valley Institution
A senior official with Corrections Canada says his orders when it came to Ashley Smith were reasonable and clear.
The orders to stay out of the Moncton teen’s cell have become a main focus of questions in recent days at the Ontario coroner’s inquiry.
Ken Allen was responsible for reviewing "use-of-force" reports filed by guards who had altercations with the Moncton teenager when she was sat the Grand Valley Institution for Women in Kitchener, Ont.
He said often jail guards entered the teen's cell too soon.
Testifying in the Ontario coroner's inquest into Smith's death, Allen defended his written reports that guards entered Smith’s cell unnecessarily and that she was often playing to the surveillance cameras.
Previous testimony has revealed guards were desperate for advice on handling Smith, but Allen said his focus was on big picture protocols, not special cases.
"I wasn't there to help them deal with Ashley Smith, that wasn't my mandate," he said.
He was responsible for reviewing the use of force reports at the institution.
Eric Broadbent, the prison manager, testified last week at the coroner’s inquest.
Broadbent said that previous witnesses misunderstood his direction to not enter Smith's cell if she was breathing.
He said the order was to focus more on Smith's level of distress than about her ability to breath
On Monday, Julian Roy, a lawyer for Ashley Smith's family, questioned Allen on his critique that staff at the institution were too quick to enter Smith's cell while the teen engaged in self-harm.
Allen maintained it was up to the staff to decide and justify when entering Smith's cell was warranted.
He said he asked the guards to consider alternatives first.
"One time comes to mind, a videotape that I reviewed it was when Ashley was, actually, she had a ligature around her neck and she was hamming it up for the cameras knowing, saying, ‘How do you like my tie?’" Allen said.
"Personally, knowing well it might escalate down the road, I think that would have been an appropriate time to negotiate that with her, to have that taken off rather than go in and forcefully remove it because she wasn't in any distress."
Allen left his position at the institution a few weeks after Smith's death in October 2007.
His testimony continues on Tuesday.