The Criminalization of Women and Mental Health

Posted: January 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

On SAT FEB 9 @ Old East Studios, 4:30-6:30pm, we will be showing a documentary by the Fifth Estate called Behind The Wall: A Closer Look into the Death of Ashley Smith. We will also discuss the current inquest into Ashley’s life and death in custody.

This section will also present written work by two federally sentenced women:
Renee Acoby, an Indigenous woman held under ‘Management Protocol’ (which is almost exclusively used for Indigenous women) has written a piece called “Solitary Confinement.”

Jazz, a queer Black woman has written a piece on racism, sexism and ableism within the Prison Industrial Complex.

On October 19th, 2007 Ashley Smith slowly choked herself to death as guards stood by and watched. Convicted at 15 years old for throwing crab apples at a postal worker, Ashley Smith’s original 30-day sentence stretched to four years and included 17 separate transfers by Corrections Canada within a year. Unfortunately, Ashley Smith’s story is not unique. There has been a rise in the incarceration of women with mental health issues over the past decade and the treatment of these women has been nothing short of inhumane. In fact, women are the fastest growing prison population worldwide, and there was a 20% increase of federally sentenced women in Canada between 2010 and 2011. Studies show that approximately 80% of imprisoned women have been the victims of physical/sexual abuse or other forms of trauma, and almost 2/3 of women in the federal system are mothers, many of whom were the sole caregivers for their children before being incarcerated. Indigenous women are more likely than other women to receive prison time rather than a community sentence, and are placed in a maximum security setting more often than other women.

Speakers include:

Sâkihitowin Awâsis: Awâsis is a mixed Métis Two-Spirit of the Carré Clan. They are a spoken word artist, community organizer, and writer currently based out of London, Ontario.

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