Five years after Ashley Smith committed suicide in a Canadian prison, disturbing videos have emerged showing the young, mentally-ill woman being restrained, drugged and duct-taped by security personnel in the months before her death.
Smith took her own life in October 2007 in an Ontario prison, after four years of incarceration and repeated threats to commit suicide. She was 19.
One of the videos shows Smith as she was being transported in a plane, accompanied by prison guards. Tied to her seat, two hoods were placed on her head to prevent her from spitting. "Let me go, I'm not going to take it off," she told the guards, while remaining calm. Later, the plane's co-pilot appears and duct-taped her hands together and to her seat.
Co-pilot: "Don't bite me."
Smith: "I'm not."
Co-pilot: "It'll get worse if you do."
Smith: "How can it get worse?"
Co-Pilot: "'I'll duct-tape your face."
In a second video, Smith is strapped to a gurney, surrounded by a group of prison personnel dressed in full riot gear. According to CBC, the prison guards interfered after Smith had cut herself with a metal object. A nurse injected Smith with a tranquilizer, and the woman would receive five more injections over the next 9 hours.
"To people who think this can't happen in Canada to a mentally ill 19-year-old, you know a picture speaks a thousand words. I'm embarrassed to be Canadian when I look at that video," Julian Falconer, the lawyer for Smith's family, said outside the hearing, according to CBC.
The videos were released during a coroner's hearing, despite a two-year-long attempt by Corrections Canada to prevent the footage from being released publically, Canada's National Post writes.
Smith was 14 when she first ended up in a youth facility for throwing crab apples at a postman, Al Jazeera writes. That one-month-sentence, however, was extended several times because of violent and erratic behavior.
Smith was reportedly diagnosed with mental illnesses including borderline personality disorder. During her time in youth detention she was reportedly involved in more than 800 reported incidents, and at least 150 attempts to physically harm herself.
In the last year of her life, Smith was transfered 17 times to 11 different prisons, CBC reports, and she spent most of her time in solitary confinement.
"I think the Ashley Smith case is a very clear example of why the mentally ill should not be in our prisons," Canada's Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews told the Vancouver Sun. "Ultimately I hope the full truth about the death of Ashley Smith comes out so that we can have a fulsome discussion about how we can avoid that kind of situation again."