Ashley Smith: Out of Control

Ashley Smith: Out of Control

2010, Crime  -   24 Comments
Ratings: 7.40/10 from 35 users.

The Fifth Estate documentary series exposes the cracks in the Canadian prison system in Ashley Smith: Out of Control, a harrowing and provocative investigation into the unfortunate death of a young inmate.

Smith was adopted shortly after her birth. Her home was like that of any traditional loving family. Her behavioral problems began with the onset of puberty, and were marked by episodes of defiance and poor school performance. After pelting a mailman with crabapples, she was incarcerated for assaulting a public employee. What was designed to be a short sentence stretched into a number of years and multiple institutions. Her journey eventually concluded with her tragic suicide inside Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ontario.

The centerpiece of the film is never-before-seen surveillance footage that shows Smith undergoing a string of physical punishments at the hands of prison guards, including painful dousings of pepper spray, 23 hours a day in solitary confinement, a lack of adequate toiletries, and barbaric constraint.

Smith clearly suffered from some form of undiagnosed mental illness. The prison system was ill prepared to deal with her unruliness; in fact, the disciplinary abuses she suffered only exacerbated her already fragile state. Astonishingly, Smith's treatment in these prisons was touted as therapeutic. It's clear that she did not receive the level of compassionate rehabilitation that could have transformed the course of her life.

In the course of their investigation, the filmmakers speak with Smith's grief stricken parents, a fellow inmate and correctional institution officials. Together, they paint a vivid portrait of a flesh and blood young girl overwhelmed by the delirium in her mind, the apathy of her captures, and the hell of her environment.

Smith's story is not unique. Mentally ill inmates are frequently moved from prison to prison across the Canadian landscape. Their mental instability is further unhinged by inhumane treatment, which often inspires them to commit more and more drastic offenses. It's a vicious cycle that betrays the purpose of reformation.

Ashley Smith: Out of Control is a probing indictment of a badly broken system, and a highly disturbing account of one of its victims.

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24 Comments / User Reviews

  1. SMS

    The United Nations considers isolation longer than 14 days, torture. For and adult. Imagine being a child in an isolation room and being told it's 'treatment'. I spent 2 months in an isolation room at 13yrs old. Following a public sexual abuse investigation into a neighbourhood pedophile, I fell apart and started running away from home. (a good home) That resulted in an admission to an adult psych. faucility and the above mentioned two months in isolation. I have emotional scars to this day because of isolation. If anything it ensured even more problems down the road and was traumatic in itself. This should not be happening anywhere, let alone Canada.

    1. jo

      I'm so sorry you had to go through that. They wonder why children act out when they are given no respect in these awful places.

  2. Nancy

    They get what they deserve

    1. SMS

      Well, you're a real special kind of cruel. I hope you don't have kids.

  3. Gee Lung

    this was very sad. sometimes people with mental disorders were abused and that's why they act the way they do. wonder if before she was adopted she was abused. i would not be surprised. fire me. would have went in that cell and saved her. rip.

    1. Bradley Read

      Terrible parents....take no responsibility. Don't tell me THEY didn't do something and fail this child. And all the armchair quarterbacks can suck it. You have no right to judge as you play no part in helping this girl. Ashley was a perpetual defiant violent little idiot. She was a murderer in waiting.

    2. Bradley Read

      The mother is a disgusting creature. She never tried to get her daughter help. Ridiculous.

  4. toledotrash

    Poor kid is tortured, literally, this is something that goes on in a POW facility.

    1. Sixtytonangel

      Her pain was self chosen.

  5. Tabitha Wallace

    You know it's pretty sad when our own government or shall I say Canada kills a young lady because she has a mental illness I don't know what this world has become of but I will tell you this we are under communist we don't get to pick and choose presidents we don't get to pick and choose s*** they already know who's going to get in there just how could they do this seriously that girl was tortured she was neglected and she was murdered bye Canada correction Federal and honestly all of them every freaking one that was involved with her caretaking with her mortgage every one of them should be charged with her murder and you know I hope the karma comes back and bites them son of a b**** is in the ass because karma's a big pill to swallow Missy did not deserve this how Ashley I'm sorry did not deserve this this is beyond me you know my kids served time in federal prison they didn't need prison time a need a drug rehabilitation and you know what they got from their prison time never been in trouble gauging their life a mental illness my oldest boy has schizophrenia my youngest son you see my who in the right mind put a young boy 21 years old with the general of the Aryan brotherhood littlewood as his first Zoe my son come home and he would kick stream cry have nightmares every f****** night and what do I say to our government I hope you motherfukers rot in hell and I hope they turn on you and I hope them people kill you in there you deserve what you get they're human just like you they made mistakes some worse than others let you know there's right and there's wrong and argue Canada I hope they wipe you off this f****** planet you worthless pieces of f*** and I send my condolences to her parents I cried this whole show and from this day forward I promise to try my best to let people be aware of what is going on in our systems are governments mental illness is not a crime it is a health and it is a disorder and a human being I hope you all rot in hell I would say God have mercy on all you guys are soles but honestly I hope somebody takes your souls and stomps on it and you burn in f****** hell rest in peace Ashley rest in peace baby

    1. AmYLeE

      Have you never heard of commas, lady!? My god!

  6. Victoria Nope

    Btw, who's been the one to put the child to Canada, hm?

  7. Victoria Nope

    The child was "a beast" the parents taught to. No need to cry.

    1. Tabitha Wallace

      U must not have a child and if you do somebody needs to come get that child and get it away from you as soon as possible who in the f*** are you to say she was a beast you'd be a beast him if you weren't treated like that Victoria nope you must be the most stupidest ignarus narcissistic scum-of-the-earth to even say that out of your mouth remember what I said about that pill he had karma yeah you're going to song that feel real f****** soon God I hope and I pray you meet you me together real quick soon you deserve it you deserve it wow I hope you never have a child and if you do I hope they turn on you and they beat you and they torture you and they let you lay down and strangle and not let no one year you suffer and run how b****

  8. cmh

    every outburst this child had was a cry for help and because she was thrown in the system, she never was able to get the help she needed. everyone involved should have been able to see that she needed more than being locked up and the fact that they never even evaluated her mental state absolutely disgusts me. the sad truth is that this is a reality for so many mentally ill prisoners. from the moment you enter the system you are nothing more than a number til the day you die.

  9. Sharky

    The parents are blaming Corrections for not helping her, why didnt they help her at home before she ever entered prison?

  10. TD

    I actually think keeping someone like this separated from the population saved innocent lives. She was a time bomb that would have hurt or killed her parents or anyone who crossed her path. IMO

    1. Tabitha Wallace

      Well if you wouldn't learn and read up and study educate yourself on mental disorder maybe you can answer your own question and I'll leave it at that wow maybe they couldn't because of her mental disorder and then when he got into the government's hands they did what they wanted with her they want to do Ritter rid this world of one less mental person I hope they

    2. Tabitha Wallace

      Now why didn't why do you say that instead of a prison she should have been in a mental institution getting help Indian Beach she would have been a time bomb maybe if they would pick if you weren't there for from what I seen that girl was tortured and murdered

  11. John

    This is an example of why you cannot trust systems. They are inadequate. All of them: prison, mental health, school, medical.
    This is why a famous English linguist said the 9 worst words in the English language are: "We're from the government and we're here to help".

  12. Then C

    The best hope for someone like her is the parent's love. If that fails, no one can help except Him. I think He intervened.

  13. Donna

    Absolutely MORTIFYING! Absolutely BARBARIC! And there's no doubt in my mind that this treatment happens in the U.S. also. You can bet your butt, I would have went into that cell, no matter if I had lost my job. And for the guards that ended up getting their jobs back? Who is their right mind would even want to go back? She basically was severely abused by these guards and the prison system, for throwing crabapples at a mailman. Utterly and totally disgusted by the way she was treated.


      I belive this kind of treatment happens all over the world. Its absolutely disgusting that they can get away with strapping these young people up. When is this torture going to end? Its obvious this doesn't work.

  14. Roma Fraser-Engler

    Out of control apparently are mental health care professions - educational systems - christian leaders - fighting for control of a human being over money - This young girl' soul was in distress a common occurrence at puberty. W5 investigated Del Vee Delores Williams Morgan private programming versus Government run facilities that could not buy the program Del Vee for autism . These statements are made without prejudice are true based upon the best accurate written data to date . There are times when GOD knows best.