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The article of January 14, 2013, entitled “Ashley Smith Inquest Begins: ‘The Best Memorial We Can Give,’ Coroner Says”is dedicated to the topical Canadian issue of correctional facilities and the circumstances of prisoners’ treatment. Ashley Smith’s case has been opened for the second time after her death that was an attempt to reveal the atrocities that take place in correctional facilities. Last year, the case was closed as the coroner abruptly resigned from the post. This year, the case has been reopened and is due to last for minimum six months. During this time, the jury will survey about 8,000 pages of information, view several scandalous video depicting cruel treatment of Ms. Smith and listen to the testimonies of about 100 witnesses. The jury is also going to visit the prison where Ms. Smith was kept prior to her death. John Carlisle, the presiding coroner, said the jury that “We cannot now reverse the course of history. What is done is done. This is the best memorial we can give to Ashley”.

The main judicial issue under consideration in this case is the inhumane treatment of inmates of correctional facilities and lack of psychological help for criminals with obvious mental problems. Besides, the problem of “the ballooning sentence” is raised, because initially, Ashley Smith was sentenced to 45 days for a petty offense, but at the time of her death, it has grown to the total of 2,239 days. The girl’s behavior in correctional facilities clearly indicated her disturbed mental state, yet she was never properly treated or sent to a mental facility. Instead, she was constantly moved from one prison to another. The circumstances of her death are truly shocking and have raised the wave of protests in Canada. The girl strangulated herself in her cell, while the guards were watching and videotaping her death. They justified their behavior by the fact that they had a direct order not to enter the cell if the girl was still breathing. The girl’s death was caused by “ligature strangulation and positional asphyxia” (Perkel, 2013). Previously, the girl had made several suicide attempts, but the management of the correctional facility did nothing to prevent her further attempts. After her death, several other scandalous videos have been released into the media. For instance, there is a video of her transportation to another prison with duck taped hands and hooded head. There is another video, where some unknown liquid was injected in her body despite her protests. The girl’s family hopes to get justice in the result of the coming trial.

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The management of the correctional system tries to prove that Ashley Smith’s case is a tragic exception and has nothing to do with the ordinary functioning of prisons. Besides, the defendants in the case try to prevent publication of the material that proves the torturous treatment of the girl. The jury is intent on investigating all materials presented in the case in order to reach a just verdict. The case has already received much public attention. In Ottawa, about thirty people held thirteen minutes’ silence near the offices of the Correctional Services of Canada as the commemoration of the girl and the protest against the cruelty reigning in prisons. Thirteen minutes have symbolic meaning as it is the amount of time that was needed for the guards to react after finding the girl’s body. Assistant professor Jennifer Kilty said in the interview that general public has to be aware of what is going on in the correctional system, because “mass incarceration, mandatory minimum sentences, extended situations of punishment – they don’t rehabilitate, they don’t make us safer”.

The article is obviously emotionally colored as the author expresses his personal attitude towards the situation through the exploitation of adjectives with negative connotations. However, it is difficult not to be engaged into the topic concerning the cruel death of a young girl who did not receive a required help, but was instead continuously tortured and deprived of basic human rights. Ashley Smith’s case has the potential of becoming one of the most publicized and scandalous trials over the recent years in the criminal justice system. The article is aimed at eliminating injustice in the correctional system originally designed as punishment, but not for punishment. Despite the anticipated difficulties, like the attempts to hide the truth about what happened to Ashley Smith, the presiding coroner and the girl’s family are rather optimistic about the outcomes. They hope that the case will become a memorial for the deceased victim of the correctional system.

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