TORONTO - The mother of a teenager who strangled herself in prison says no one has been held accountable for the death.
Testifying today at a Toronto inquest, Coralee Smith says nothing has changed for inmates.
She says everyone in the system knew how desperate her daughter was, yet they did not help.
Ashley Smith choked herself to death in her segregation cell in Kitchener, Ont., in October 2007.
Guards, who were under orders not to intervene, simply watched.
Her mom says the 19-year-old should not have been in prison in the first place.
"I still see no accountability. Ashley died on the floor. There was no help for her," an emotional Smith, 65, told the inquest jurors.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this was Canada. Inmates are allowed to take their own lives, and I say with assistance, because they stood around."
The inquest has heard how Ashley showed increasingly aberrant behaviour, including frequently tying ligatures around her neck.
Her daughter even asked her, in the days before she died, what a mother would think if her child committed suicide, Smith testified.
Still, Smith said she is convinced her daughter never meant to kill herself.
"I knew she didn't commit suicide," Smith said, fighting back tears. Ashley was coming home."
Smith said she didn't think a family should have to fight for five years to get a thorough airing of what went so tragically wrong with her daughter, who spent the past three years of her life largely in segregation.
"We've only come to an inquest. There should have been an inquiry," she said.
"Who gives such orders? No one has stood up. The guards were there and they were hands on. Who passes the orders down?"
Smith noted the inquest only got going in earnest after Prime Minister Stephen Harper intervened.
Harper denounced Correctional Service of Canada for how it had been obstructing the hearing, leading to long delays in the start of the inquest.
"What family would ever get the attention of the prime minister?" she said.
"Because we chased it. So many people can't do that."
Smith said she never knew details of Ashley's confinement, including the lengthy and ongoing stints in segregation.
Instead, they chatted about family and about Ashley going home at some point.
After learning of her child's death, Smith called Eric Broadbent, a correctional manager at the Grand Valley Institution where Ashley died.
Broadbent, who once promised Smith he would look after Ashley, was among managers who berated guards for going into her cell to remove ligatures.
"I just couldn't believe: This was a man who said he'd take care of her."