Do inquiries deliver justice for those left to grieve?

Ashley Smith was 19 when she choked to death in October 2007 at the Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont. (CP)


Ashley Smith begged her prison guards not to taser her. Correctional staff never figured out how to manage someone as volatile and troubled as the 19 year old. A coroner's jury ruled doing nothing led to her death six years ago -- calling it a homicide. Many inquests have come and gone.and many of their recommendations have gone nowhere. So why are inquests important and what purposes do they serve?

In key evidence evidence presented at the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith, the 19-year-old pleaded with the Kingston correctional officers trying to subdue her.

Yesterday, after a year of hearings, the second inquest into her death delivered a verdict of homicide.

The Moncton teenager died six years ago when guards failed to remove a cord she'd place around her own neck. They were told by senior management not to intervene unless she stopped breathing.

"How could such a flagrant abuse, such a flagrant regard for human life, go unaccounted for. We on behalf of the Smith family call for the authorities to re-open the criminal investigation into those who issued the order ... Those who made the order not to go into her cell. The Deputy Warden. The Warden. Those above have yet to truly be investigated, or yet to truly answer for their actions."

Julian Falconer, lawyer for the Smith family

The Ashley Smith Inquest won't right any wrongs done to the then19-year-old. But today we ask if any inquiry might bring justice, or solace to those left to grieve.

  • Linda Bush is the mother of Ian Bush, whose death at the hands of the RCMP spurred an inquest in 2007. She was in Houston, B.C.

Share your thoughts on today's discussion.

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This segment was produced by The Current's Debbie Pacheco, Sarah Grant, Sujata Berry and Liz Hoath.

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