Horrific treatment - Ashley Smith

posted by Brian Judge on Nov 01, 2012 in Prison TV Blog | 0 comments
Horrific treatment - Ashley Smith

By Ricky Atkinson:  What I noticed most about the horrific treatment of Ashley Smith from the video, now made public after a long and expensive struggle by CSC to prevent its release, was the absolute fear of correctional staff, nurses and the pilot over transferring an average sized girl, whose crime was throwing an apple at a postman.


She was not a highly trained military assassin; neither was she a trained terrorist leader with comrades ready to kill to free her from captivity.


This fear was not always present in correctional staff, police, and emergency service workers. For example, when I was being transferred from Millhaven Institution’s transfer unit in Ontario to a prison in British Columbia aboard Con-Air, I shot my mouth off to the head of transfers standing on the Tarmac.


He shot back to the guards on the plane, "Watch this one, he is one of the most dangerous men in the Ontario prison system". I was instantly treated differently and placed at the front of the plane, sandwiched between rows of guards - guarding 20 other prisoners on Con-Air.


Here I was a big, six foot three professional boxer, trained in military tactics from Black Panthers, hard from thirty years of prison and gang-life survival, and yet I didn't get full tactical teams watching my every move. I wasn’t ducked taped to the seat of the plane. I wasn’t rolled into a cell on a gurney, tied down like a wild beast.


How does a small girl generate such fear in adult men and women in uniform who are trained to handle violent situations?


We now live in a military state, where tanks sit in most police stations. The response to anti-social situations by government officials is expensive and life threatening. Tactical responses that anger the public highlight the belief that violence is the only way to handle any situation.


Mediation, a kind word, an attitude of we are here to help, change, transform, rehabilitate or get you ready to live with us in society has slowly been supplanted with the message of “we are your worst enemy don't get out of line, or else”.


I have seen lots of prison violence and know many who have killed themselves. I have seen guards stand by and watch someone die, or, shoot them dead.


I have also seen guards smash through windows and break down doors to rush in and save an inmate’s life. Back in 1975, I stood only a few feet from a guard, who from his guard tower post, responded to five native prisoners going over the wall at Collins Bay.


His walkie talkie crackled “shoot them, shoot them”, and he whispered to himself “I'm not going to kill them. They won’t get more then fifty feet into that field”. The guard and I both watched as the prisoners were stopped at gun point less than a hundred yards away.


I think in today’s climate of fear and ultimate power, all five of those inmates would have been gunned down by most guards today patrolling our prisons or police on the streets.

Violence begets violence and the world seems to be spiraling out of control led by government officials who are using less and less restraint in dealing with the populace.


Men like me who have seen it all, done it all, realize that only through dialogue, restraint, mediation and compassion for our fellow man do our children and grandchildren have a chance of living in a world even faintly resembling the world we grew up in. Let’s stop the madness by asking government to use restraint and compassion in their desire to protect us from ourselves.


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