A Nova Scotia woman says she doesn’t want her daughter to end up like Ashley Smith, and fears the province has learned nothing from the mentally ill teenager’s death in an Ontario prison.
Brenda Hardman says her 25-year-old daughter has an intellectual and physical disability that makes her prone to violent outbursts. In the last five years, police have responded to 17 calls, seven which resulted in charges and jail time.
“She was handcuffed, taken in a police car, taken to jail and she was charged with assault,” says Hardman. “The result of that was a probation order for 18 months.”
She says her daughter was taken out of the mental health court system and put back into the mainstream court system. That prompted her to write a letter to Nova Scotia’s Justice Minister Ross Landry.
“So he and his staff can be aware that the mental health court system is not responding to the people it needs to work for,” she says.
The provincial government introduced the Mental Health Court in November 2009. The proceedings are overseen by a team of mental health clinicians.
Hardman says there is no way her daughter will make it through her 18 month probation without another incident.
She says there are many similarities between her daughter’s case and the case of Ashley Smith. Smith choked herself to death in an Ontario prison as guards stood by. The death is at the centre of a coroner’s inquiry still underway.