Ashley Smith Inquest Hears Disturbing Phone Calls Recordings

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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The Ashley Smith Inquest heard audio recordings of the staff having conversations among themselves, that was recorded automatically as a routine procedure in federal prisons, for almost eight minutes in multiple calls made at the time that teenager allegedly committed suicide.

The recordings might have never been made public if it the 19-year-old would not have died an extremely controversial death in a segregated cell at Kitchener Ont.’s Grand Valley Institution for Women. The recordings exposed several major authentic responses of the management to the initial calls about Ashley’s incident. The first call reported that Ashley was “tying up” again, to which the caller soon added that this time, it is different. The correctional manager, Travis McDonald, informed the on-duty deputy warden, Joanne Pauline, that “inmate Smith is not breathing,” to which she replied saying, “Great.” It seems like an impulsive irritated response of a bureaucrat, who will now have to explain her reaction.

The first member of the Grand Valley management team, although not one of the senior ranks, to testify at the Ontario coroner’s inquest, McDonald, confirmed the testimony of COs Blaine Phibbs and Charlene Venter. They alleged that guards were under explicit orders to not remove the homemade ligatures, in Ashley wraps them around her neck at least until she is seen “to be talking, moving around or breathing.” These disturbing orders were allegedly passed in late September of 2007, i.e. less than a month before the Moncton, N.B. native suffocated herself to death.

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