Statement by Irwin Elman, Ontario's Advocate for Children and Youth on verdict at Ashley Smith inquest

TORONTO, Dec. 19, 2013 /CNW/ - Today, the jury delivered a verdict of homicide at the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith. The five-member panel also made recommendations to prevent others from suffering the way she did. We are grateful to the jury for their common sense wisdom and their work to find better ways to manage young people who struggle in our criminal justice system.

Today's verdict brings immense sadness and as difficult as it may be to hear, it allows us to move forward and honour Ashley through our actions. It is time for our province and country to learn from Ashley's death and take the necessary steps to prevent a similar death in the future. The federal and provincial governments, together with Correctional Services of Canada, must consider and enact the recommendations.

Ashley Smith was a young woman who was full of potential. Through the inquest we now have a better understanding of how the system failed her and what we need to do to prevent future deaths. Our hope is that the recipients of the jury's recommendations will honour Ashley's memory by taking the recommendations seriously and implementing them in a timely way. We have come too far to let her down again. There is a long history of inquest recommendations being ignored and it would compound the tragedy of her death to see this galling pattern continue. We can and must do better for young people in need who enter our criminal justice system.

About the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth
The Office of the Provincial Advocate reports directly to the Legislature and provides an independent voice for children and youth, including children with special needs and First Nations children. The Provincial Advocate receives and responds to concerns from children and youth who are seeking or receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act and the Education Act (Provincial and Demonstration Schools). The Provincial Advocate identifies systemic problems involving children, conducts reviews and provides education and advice on the issue of advocacy and the rights of children. The Office is guided by the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and has a strong commitment to youth involvement.

SOURCE: Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth

For further information:

Media Contact: 
Fiona Taylor
Tel: 416-420-7728

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Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth

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