Prison staff want faces blurred on Smith inquest videos

Correctional staff at the Ontario prison where a young woman choked herself to death want their faces obscured on videos to be made public at an inquest, with one woman saying she shouldn’t suffer because Ashley Smith tied “one too many” ligatures around her neck.

TORONTO — Correctional staff at the Ontario prison where a young woman choked herself to death want their faces obscured on videos to be made public at an inquest, with one woman saying she shouldn’t suffer because Ashley Smith tied “one too many” ligatures around her neck.

About 10 videos are expected to be entered as evidence at the inquest examining the death of 19-year-old Smith, who died following an incident at Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont., in October 2007.

The inquest has heard that the young woman from Moncton, N.B., frequently tied ligatures around her neck for the sensation and staff would go into her cell, usually about four at a time, and forcibly remove the cloth.

It’s Correctional Service of Canada policy for staff to videotape, whenever possible, such use-of-force incidents. Five such videos have already been released to the media.

Correctional Service of Canada — through lawyers, testimony from the Grand Valley warden and a staff member, as well as emails from more than a dozen others at the prison — argued that the faces of Corrections staff should be blurred on the videos.

One staff member writes to a lawyer that she does not think that she and her children should be “subjected to a slanted view projected by the media.”

“I do not believe that my family should suffer because one individual decided one too many times to attempt to take her own life,” she writes.