It’s pretty obvious we need new laws governing those found not criminally responsible for serious, violent offences, including murder.
The story of Vince Li, who stabbed, beheaded and mutilated carnival worker Tim McLean last year just outside of Portage la Prairie, is a perfect example.
I know all the do-gooders and the highbrow crowd think putting a guy like Li away for the rest of his life is inhumane and uncivilized.
They trot out all the psychiatric statistics and justifications for why we shouldn’t keep severely psychotic people like Li in secure custody forever.
NOT REALLY CRIMINALS
They’re not really criminals. They didn’t really commit the offence, the illness did. And they should be given a chance to reintegrate. Yeah, we get it.
But for those of us who place greater weight on public safety, we say keeping Li off the streets forever is just common sense.
I keep hearing this argument that most people deemed not criminally responsible after killing someone don’t kill again after they’re released into the community.
Therefore, they don’t need to be locked up forever, the argument goes.
Well, the same could be applied to people who are found criminally responsible for homicide. Most of those don’t kill again either, most studies show. But we still hand out life sentences for first and second-degree murder.
I don’t see why under the Criminal Code we can’t sentence people deemed not criminally responsible for serious, violent offences to life in a secure facility.
Instead of a prison, a court would sentence them to a secure mental-health facility.
It would be humane, civilized and the right setting for people with severe mental health illnesses.
The reality is, there are all kinds of complicated reasons why people commit offences. Some people are controlled by their addictions, serious psychological afflictions from years of abuse and neglect, fetal alcohol syndrome, mental health issues not serious enough to warrant institutionalization, you name it.
Are those people responsible for their crimes? Did they know what they were doing? Did they know it was wrong?
Yes, no, maybe.
At some point did Vince Li know what he was doing was wrong when he dismembered Tim McLean? Did he have a lucid moment?
Not even Dr.Stanley Yaren, the forensic psychiatrists who testified at his trial could say for sure.
If we’re going to allow someone like Vince Li back on the street because he has a serious mental disorder, should we let the person with FAS convicted of second- degree murder out, too?
If not, why not? No doubt a bunch of high-priced lawyers and forensic psychiatrists could make a case for why the FAS offender shouldn’t be held responsible for his actions because he didn’t know what he was doing was wrong.
After all, it wasn’t his fault his mother drank during pregnancy.
No, we shouldn’t let the FAS killer out. We shouldn’t let the crack-addicted killer out. And we shouldn’t let Vince Li out.
All for the same reason: public safety. Put them in the right institution. Treat them humanely. Give them the treatment they require. Whatever.
But for goodness sake, don’t let them back on the street.
For excerpts of the agreed statement of facts in the Vince Li case, visit Brodbeck’s blog Raise a Little Hell at winnipegsun.com.
News Columnists / Tom Brodbeck