B.C. attorney-general requests end to annual NCR reviews

B.C.’s attorney-general Barry Penner is calling for the federal government to abolish one-year reviews for killers who are found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder (NCR). Barry Penner met Thursday with federal counterpart Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to discuss the proposal which seeks to eliminate annual reviews for killers found NCR.

The attorney-general says the request stems from a meeting earlier this year with Darcie Clarke, who says she is haunted by the fact that her ex-husband will come up for a review every year, making her re-live the nightmare of her children’s murders.

In 2008, while visiting the home of his estranged wife, Alan Schoenborn stabbed to death his daughter Kaitlynne, 10, and smothered his sons Max, 8, and Cordon, 5. He was found not criminally responsible and it caused an public outcry when months after the ruling, the BC criminal review board ruled that Schoenborn should have increased freedoms into the community.

“I suggested it should be every three years or five years, or earlier if the treating psychiatrist says there is a marked improvement,” Penner said. He urged the justice minister to consider abolishing annual reviews for “those who committed heinous acts, such as taking another person’s life or committing a serious assault.”

Penner would like to see other changes to Criminal Code Section 672, which governs those found not criminally responsible for their crimes because they were mentally ill at the time. He wants to make sure more than one psychiatrist is on the review board panel when making a decision on when to release a patient into the community, even on escorted passes.

There should be at least two psychiatrists “and maybe make it a panel of three so you don’t have a tie vote,” Penner said.

The justice minister seemed receptive to the proposed changes, Penner said.

Security must be tighter for Li, justice minister says

Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan has quickly called for tighter security before Vincent Li will be allowed to have his walks. But will his voice be heard?

“Vince Li will not be allowed to leave the locked forensic unit at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre for brief outings until security measures are beefed up”, Justice Minister Andrew Swan said. Swan continued that the decision by a Criminal Code review board to allow Li to have brief escorted passes outdoors on the health centre’s grounds “will shock the conscience of Manitobans and indeed all Canadians.”

“In our view this order is contrary to the interests of public safety and seriously undermines public confidence in the Canadian system of justice,” he stated.

Swan wrote a letter to federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson outlining his concerns.
“We strongly urge that the Criminal Code of Canada should be amended to ensure that such a demonstrably unfit disposition cannot be made,” Swan said in the letter. “At a minimum, the Criminal Code should provide that public safety must be the paramount consideration before the Criminal Code Review Board.”

Swan said the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, which houses Li, will decide what security measures are needed.

While the statements made by Justice Minster Swan are appreciated they will do little to change the reality of the decision. The Supreme Court of Canada has clearly decided that the rights of Vincent Li are the only consideration before the Review Board.

There is clearly a need to amend the Criminal Code of Canada and that is the motivation of Tim’s Law. But as Justice Minister Andrew Swan is all to aware, to provide safety and security to the general public of Manitoba,  and the rest of Canadians, there needs to be some major changes and renovations to the facility that Vincent Li is housed in, Selkirk Mental Health Centre (SMHC).

This will require taxpayers dollars… is Justice Minister Andrew Swan lobbying for this from his provincial counterparts?