The Life and Death of Ashley Smith
A seemingly normal child, Ashley Smith fell into a abyss as a teen. Locked up at 15, the New Brunswick girl spent most of her youth in solitary confinement until, at age 19, she chocked herself to death while on ‘suicide watch’ in a federal prison, with guards standing by as she took her last breaths. In a new ebook, The Life and Death of Ashley Smith, two Star journalists who covered the story, Donovan Vincent and Diana Zlomislic, synthesize testimony from her inquest and facts gathered in their own reporting in an attempt to make sense of an individual and family tragedy that became a national shame.
Donovan Vincent is a reporter on the Toronto Star’s national desk. The recipient of a National Newspaper Award and a Michener Award, he covered the Toronto inquest into the prison death of Ashley Smith. Earlier he was based in the Star’s city hall bureau, where he reported during former mayor David Miller’s second term. Vincent has covered a number of beats for the newspaper and has written extensively on mental health and social justice issues, including housing.
Diana Zlomislic joined the Toronto Star in 2002. After spending several years working behind the scenes, culminating in her editorship of the Saturday Star, Zlomislic returned to reporting as a member of the paper’s investigative team. She spent years pressing the federal government for details of Ashley Smith’s incarceration. Her determined coverage has shed light on the use of segregation in Canada’s prisons and the plight of mentally ill offenders.