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Shocking prison video of Ashley Smith prompted pep memo to guards

Howard Rubel, lawyer for the union that represents prison guards, speaks outside coroner's court at the start of the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith in Toronto on Monday January 14, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel

TORONTO - The head of Canada's federal prisons admits in internal memos that the treatment of Ashley Smith was substandard.

But in a recent morale-boosting memo to guards, Don Head says the treatment of the teenager was an aberration, not the norm.

The memo followed shocking video released at the end of October, showing Smith being duct-taped and drugged.

Documents also show the government scrambling to control the media message.

Senior officials sent out strict instructions that any spokesmen on the issue stick to pre-approved messaging.

A long-awaited inquest into Smith's in-custody choking death begins this week.


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