A Literary Analysis of Critical Reflection of Ashley Smith Video

Table of Content

Policy Issue One

The main policy issue raised in this article, entitled “Critical Reflection of Ashley Smith Video”, is the inadequate correctional services provided by Canada’s prison departments. This is showcased through The Fifth Estate’s investigation video titled “Behind the Wall”, which exposes the mistreatment of mentally ill prisoners within a prison system that was once praised and admired internationally. The video sheds light on Ashley Smith’s time in prison and offers a revealing and tragic understanding of the full extent of this event (Sharpe, 2011). The footage was recorded by Valentino (Rudy) Burnett, a substitute guard from another institution. Initially, Burnett faced charges of negligence in Ashley Smith’s death, but these charges were later dismissed. He was accused of filming a dying person instead of intervening to save her. While he admitted that in an ideal world he could have saved Ashley’s life, he argued that in the correctional world, it was not his responsibility to do so and therefore maintained that he did the right thing by not intervening.

Emergency of the Policy in Relation to the Case of Ashley Smith

The policy emerged in response to the death of Ashley Smith, a resident of Moncton, who tragically strangled herself to death in a federal prison on October 19, 2007, while being observed by guards at her cell door. This video investigation delves into the difficult life that Ashley Smith endured while in federal prison and the unfortunate circumstances surrounding her untimely demise. The guards and supervisors faced negligence charges, although these were eventually dismissed after a year, whereas the warden and deputy warden were promptly dismissed from their positions (Bell, 2011).

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How the issue was Dealt with

The death of Ashley was the subject of two significant inquests. The first inquest, led by deputy chief coroner Dr. Bonita Porter, took place in 2011 during Smith’s incarceration under the federal Correctional Service. This initial inquest lasted for eleven months. However, it was delayed by Ashley’s family due to concerns about perceived interference from Dr. Bonita without any legal basis. In November 2012, a second inquest was conducted by Dr. John Carlisle as the findings of the first inquest were controversial. The conclusive findings of the second inquest had a significant impact on Canada’s political landscape. The presiding coroner, Dr. Carlisle, highlighted major policy issues that arose from this inquest (Solomon, 2012).

Changes That Could Be Made To The Policy Going Forward

It is essential for prison departments to prioritize mental health care in their policies to ensure the well-being of prisoners during incarceration. This is because inmates experience significant mental strain while serving sentences in correctional facilities.

Practical Challenges that might Impact how Policies are Implemented in Canada

The implementation of policies in Canada may be influenced by practical challenges. These challenges include resistance to change from the correctional services of Canada and the conservative practices within prison departments. This is demonstrated by a guard who believed it was preferable to allow Ashley Smith to strangle herself to death rather than intervene in accordance with laws and regulations in correctional facilities.


Adoption of better policies can prevent the death of prisoners like Ashley Smith. Availability of mental facilities is essential for achieving this. Proper guidance and counseling should be provided for the affected individuals, particularly prisoners who are most impacted.


The government of Canada will bear the costs of implementing the proposed reforms and policies, which are considerable in terms of financial capability. These costs, which include training new personnel and providing essential services to prisoners, can be quite expensive.

Policy Issue Two

The second policy is primarily focused on the effects of long-term solitary confinement and repeated transfers between prison institutions nationwide, as well as the role of mental healthcare for prisoners like Ashley. However, in contrast, most prisoners are neglected and left to lead their own lives in these intimidating facilities (Alvi, 2011). Taking serious action against the guards and supervisors responsible for this unjust situation would be appropriate.

Emergency of the Policy in Relation to the Case of Ashley Smith

This policy issue arises when the video reveals that Ashley Smith was transferred 17 times within 11 months and subjected to 24-hour isolation daily. These court actions constitute torture and the infringement of prisoners’ fundamental human rights. Moreover, it uncovers that Canada’s correctional services employ sleep deprivation as a means of punishment. The video discloses the concealed harassment and unjust treatment endured by prisoners under the pretense of justice. Such practices have harmful consequences for prisoners’ mental well-being.

How the issue was Dealt with.

The highest levels of government, including Don Head, commissioner of Correctional Service Canada, addressed the emergence of this issue after it was brought to light by the media. They acknowledged the failure in Ashley Smith’s case and put forward preventive measures to avoid similar tragedies in the future.

Changes that could be Made to the Policy Going Forward

This calls for the elimination of the unjust methods of justice currently being practiced in Canadian correctional facilities. It is crucial for society at large to envision a path that will effectively alleviate the confusion and distress caused by mental abuse and suffering, leading to significant losses. Therefore, federal establishments must implement the suggested policies introduced by mental health experts and organizations advocating for prisoners’ freedom and rights (Sharpe, 2011).

Practical Challenges that might Impact how Policies are Implemented in Canada

The reluctance of Canadian correctional facilities to embrace more effective approaches for managing prisoners is a significant obstacle. Their main objective is to separate inmates from society and assist in their rehabilitation, fostering their transformation into accountable and productive individuals within the community.


The advantages of the emergence of responsible individuals from correctional facilities after serving their time in jail are due to the fact that they learn to behave properly under the guidance of well-trained correctional staff.


The implementation of these policies will result in high financial costs, as more officers will be required to handle the increasing number of prisoners in correctional facilities.
To summarize, I believe that imprisonment should lead to the restriction of freedom of movement. However, denying other rights to prisoners violates their rights (Gartner, 2010). An example is the case of Ashley Smith who was initially sentenced to thirty days but ended up serving four years. This is completely unacceptable in modern society, yet regrettably common in prisons and psychiatric institutions across Canada.

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A Literary Analysis of Critical Reflection of Ashley Smith Video. (2022, May 07). Retrieved from


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