I don’t know how to break this to you gently, so I’ll just come right out with it: I could kill you.
A few years ago, Vince Li, an individual suffering from a severe form of schizophrenia, committed an incredibly violent act, beheading a man on a greyhound bus. It was later revealed that at the time, Li believed he heard God’s voice, which told him that the victim was evil, and needed to be executed.
Li was eventually found Not Criminally Responsible, meaning that he wasn’t guilty, because he lacked the mens rea to have committed the offence.
Since then, every year (or two years?) Li gets a ‘status review’. He’s brought before the Mental Health Review Board along with a representative from a Crown Attorney and lots of doctors and they discuss his likelihood to reoffend, his treatment, etc, and they assess what privileges and freedoms he will be entitled to in the coming year.
Every time Li goes before the review board, the media and the Conservative government go nuts. “Victims’ rights!”, they shout. This time, Canada’s public safety minister explained that; “Canadians expect that their justice system will keep them safe from high-risk individuals” after condemning the review board for granting Li unescorted trips to the nearby community of Selkirk.
Of course, the Minister is right. Li’s psychiatrist is no described as a model, non-violent patient and a low risk to re-offend. But these people don’t want to hear about that.
They don’t want to hear that Li isn’t in custody as a punishment, but to ensure that he gets treatment.
They don’t want to hear that he’ll be released - free and clear - as soon as he’s no longer a risk.
They don’t want to hear that he wasn’t responsible for his actions.
In a kind of national NIMBY reaction, the Conservatives have introduced the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act - a law that when passed, will shift the focus from treatment to punishment, and will in fact make it easier to effectively punish people who our justice system has said are not criminally responsible.
The article above, ironically from the right-wing Sun News, is a really good take-down of the reactionary NIMBY-like position taken by people on this sort of issue. It’s a good read.