Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Society pays for the price of crime fixation; fighting mythical crime wave

The Conservatives' fixation on crime despite a decline in crime rates would be beyond comprehension were it not for the fact that tough-on-crime measures do well in opinion polls.
Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page's report shows how much money the government will spend to fight this mythical crime wave. I have no axe to grind about paying taxes, but I do expect some basic openness about how public funds are spent. So why is the government withholding information about the costs of these bills from Page, the media and the public?
We need to talk about more than just dollars and cents. What are the societal costs of throwing more people in jail and keeping them there longer? Do we agree with putting 14-year-olds into adult prisons? We should talk about the dismal lack of focus on prevention.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews talks about "hardened criminals," but many others will get caught in the net. Does the term "hardened criminal" apply to the person who gets a mandatory six months when found to have five or more marijuana plants? What happens to his family when he goes to jail? Can he get a job once he has a criminal record? Does the punishment fit the crime? What is the price to the larger society?
Thanks to the crime agenda, Correctional Services Canada's budget is set to rise by 27 per cent, while all other departments face a budget freeze. I am appalled that the government appears more concerned about crime than about climate change, the debt, Haiti, Afghanistan, homelessness or any of the other burning issues we face.
Is this the kind of Canada we want? What's next, public hangings? Where are the opposition parties? Apparently too cowed to speak out for fear of being painted as soft on crime. For shame.

OTTAWA - The Tory tough-on-crime agenda will cost Canadian taxpayers billions, according to Parliament's spending watchdog.
The 125-page analysis by parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page projects spending will more than double to $9.5 billion in the next five years to keep convicted criminals locked up longer - including a multimillion-dollar price tag for building new prison cells and heftier annual operating and maintenance bills.
Both federal and provincial spending are expected to soar with the implementation of the Truth in Sentencing Act, but the provinces are expected to take an even greater hit. The report forecasts an extra 4,189 cells will be required at a cost of $1.8 billion over five years.
Page called the financial impact "significant" and urged greater transparency on the government's numbers to round out the public debate.
"They're large. But we're just bean-counters, we're financial analysts, we're economists," he told QMI Agency. "We don't actually look at the benefits - we look at one side of the equation and there will be some, and there should be some, debate."
If his report pries more detailed accounting from the government, then it will be a good day for Parliament and for democracy, he said.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews rejected Page's numbers, insisting the government's estimates remain $2 billion over five years. And he said that's money well-spent to keep Canadians safe.
"The cost of crime to Canadians is approximately $70 billion a year and the cost of incarcerating dangerous repeat offenders is warranted in that context," he said.
But Liberal MP and public safety critic Mark Holland accused the Conservatives of "dumping" huge costs on unwitting provinces and taxpayers and skimming from other critical government programs.

The federal Conservatives like to talk about the importance of "getting tough on crime." But they are reluctant to reveal the bill taxpayers will face for initiatives that might or might not bring any improvement to public safety.
Parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page filled in one of the blanks this week.
The government's Truth in Sentencing Act eliminates the current practice of giving inmates two-for-one credit for time spent in jail awaiting trial. Pre-trial custody, with no programs and little time out of cells, is considered hard time.
The change will mean more people in prisons for longer periods. Page looked at the impact and concluded the cost to run federal and provincial jails will more than double, to $9.5 billion from $4.4 billion a year by 2015.
Provinces are responsible for inmates serving less than two years. B.C.'s jails are already overcrowded. Page estimates the provincial government will need to spend between $700 million and $1.1 billion to build new prisons. Operating costs would also rise.
Maybe the sentencing change is useful. But surely not with a price tag in the billions, when crime is dropping and governments are in a financial vise.
The report raises two other questions. Why would the government introduce -- and MPs vote for -- a new law without understanding how much it would cost? (Public Safety Minister Vic Toews originally said the law would mean additional costs of less than $90 million over two years. In April, he upped it to $2 billion over five years. We prefer Page's independent analysis.)
And how much more will the Conservatives' other crime measures -- longer sentences, mandatory minimums and the rest -- cost taxpayers?
Toews says he has a "good idea" of the total cost, but doesn't want to share the information with the public.
Getting tough on crime looks a lot like getting tough on taxpayers.

At a time that crime rates are decreasing, the Conservatives amp up their tough on crime policies? Doesn't make too much sense to me. Plus, evidence and research show that longer sentences and imprisoning more people will not increase public safety, as they may assume, because longer sentences actually increase the rates of re-offending, which makes society less, not more safe. What we need to do, is spend more money on crime prevention programs and reintegration programs for ex-offenders, to assist and support them in their return to society as they become productive citizens. 

Getting tough on crime is expensive and we will all pay....

PARLIAMENTARY Budget Officer Kevin Page and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews have very different assessments of the ultimate cost of the Conservatives’ new Truth in Sentencing law. There’s good reason to suspect both men’s numbers.
In an analysis released last week, Mr. Page estimated at least a dozen new federal prisons will be needed in the next five years because of the law, which eliminated two-for-one credit off jail sentences for time spent in pre-trial detention. Provinces deal with similar pressures due to increased overcrowding.
Overall, Mr. Page warned, the cost to the national correctional system on all levels could more than double in the next five years, from $4.4 billion to $9.5 billion a year.
There are qualifiers to Mr. Page’s analysis, however. Ottawa’s budget watchdog says he was prevented by government from obtaining all information needed to do his assessment. Mr. Page’s projections were also based on assuming increases in prisoner populations would be met by building enough cells to house all inmates individually.
Mr. Toews, on the other hand, claims that double-bunking of prisoners will moderate the need to build new facilities.
After initially vowing the legislation would add only $90 million a year to correctional costs, by April the public safety minister had upped his estimate to $2 billion over five years. Mr. Toews later said he didn’t wish to "share any more details on expected costs.
Mr. Toews also denied that Corrections Canada failed to co-operate with Mr. Page.
When it comes to the reliability of budget projections, however, Ottawa’s numbers must also be questioned, given their track record. And the Conservatives’ penchant for secrecy makes Mr. Page’s claim he was denied access to crucial data largely credible. Besides, why would he make such a thing up?
Ottawa and the provinces also seem on a collision course over whether the feds should help provinces with the undeniably higher costs — whatever the true tally — of keeping inmates locked up longer.
Meanwhile, taxpayers — many of whom support the idea of getting tough on crime — remain in the dark about the true cost.

The federal Conservatives touted their new Truth in Sentencing Act as a sterling improvement in law that would be tough on crime. Tough on taxpayers is more like it.
On Tuesday, parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page released his long-awaited report on the impact of the new law, passed this spring, to limit judges’ discretion in considering time served in custody when handing down sentences.
Hold on to your hats and your wallets because the cost to build and staff new federal prisons to house all these crooks for longer stretches is projected at $5.1 billion over the next five years.
It gets better, because it turns out the provinces will be even harder hit by the truth about the Truth in Sentencing Act. Page’s 110-page report has two scenarios to estimate provincial costs, but he says they will range from $6 billion to $10 billion. Most of those costs will be to build new facilities, and the hardest-hit provinces will be those where jails are already bursting at the seams.
Hmmm. This sounds familiar. Inmates and guards alike at the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth have been complaining for years about overcrowding that has created unsafe conditions. Just last week, the province’s largest jail went into lockdown after a ruckus that included a stabbing, an assault and a refusal by some inmates to return to their cells.
Officials at the jail, which has received increased staff and equipment to deal with crowding issues, insist all is well but have promised to review procedures.
A plan by the previous MacDonald Tory government to build two new provincial jails was scaled back into one facility by the NDP, though Justice Minister Ross Landry has yet to announce the chosen site.
But it sounds as if Landry, and his counterparts in other provinces, will soon find themselves building or expanding more facilities to cope with the impact of the new federal law.
At an Ottawa news conference where his report was released, Page said he was "shocked at the cost projections related to the act, The Canadian Press reported Tuesday.
"The provinces and the territories carry the weight of the correctional services system in Canada, so the impact is going to be enormous on the provinces and territories, he said.
He explained that federal correctional costs, $4.4 billion last year, will hit about $9.5 billion by 2016.
That will be primarily because of a jump of 159 days, on average, in the length of inmates’ sentences. Average time in federal custody is expected to increase from 563 days to 722 days with the elimination of so-called "time served before sentencing.
The number of inmates in federal facilities at any one time is expected to increase to 17,058 from 13,304.
The effect on the provinces and territories will be much more severe, Page said, because there are roughly 23,000 inmates in provincial facilities at one time, compared with the 13,000 housed in federal prisons.
Page also expressed concerns over the difficulties he experienced in trying to get information from the federal government on correctional costs. He was forced to use 2008 figures for his projections. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has disputed Page’s findings, saying the estimated financial impact of the new law will be closer to $2 billion.
The truly frustrating aspect of the change in law is that it does nothing to speed already slow court dockets that are straining to accommodate cases in often inadequate and understaffed court facilities. The Conservatives, rather than doing something at the front end of the system that could have reduced the "time served before sentencing, have further back-end loaded an already groaning system by tying the hands of judges to prevent them from using their discretion.
And besides mirroring a heavy-handed American justice system, have the Conservatives done anything to demonstrate that eliminating "time served does anything to reduce crime in the first place?

Imprisoning more people for longer periods will not reduce, prevent or deter crime. It has been proven in the United States already, as an expensive failure, so what makes us think the tough on crime policy will work here in Canada? Longer sentences increase the rates of re-offending due to the negative environment, influences, drugs, gangs and pro criminal behaviours and attitudes and decrease the likelihood of successful reintegration because inmates often receive little assistance and support once released, leave with no rehabilitation, life skills, addictions, no housing, no employment, financial difficulties and a reduced support system/network. This is a recipe for disaster. Increasing the prison population will create further overcrowding which has adverse psychological effects on inmates and can lead to increased tension, stress and levels of violence within the prison. Building more prisons and spending copious amounts of money on this sentencing policy will not reduce or prevent future crime. The only way to accomplish that is to rely less on prison and more on community alternatives which are much more effective at addressing the root causes and contributing factors of crime. We also need more prevention programs for at-risk youth and adults. This, is where that money should have been spent.

This is a bad policy which will result in no effect on crime rates whatsoever. The proposed legislation where possessing a small amount of marijuana and trafficking would have a mandatory sentence is ridiculous. There is no judicial discretion. More non-violent drug offenders will be imprisoned causing further unnecessary overcrowding. We should instead decriminalize marijuana possession and trafficking. It is not dangerous, victimless and both parties are consenting.   

Need some information on pardons? Want to know how to receive one? All the information you need is here!

Lesley Atkinson from pardons.ca recently made a proposal to write a guest article for my blog. I gladly accepted, as the pardon process is of great interest to me. A pardon from a criminal record can be very useful in opening up employment, housing and travel opportunities. Below, is the informative article written by Lesley Atkinson from www.pardons.ca.   
 What you can do about your criminal record
People with a criminal record often find it more difficult to get a good job or opportunity to volunteer, as well as more difficulty with child custody cases and immigration situations. A criminal record presents an almost permanent barrier to living a normal life, and hampers an individual’s attempt to rehabilitate back into law abiding society. This is why many people with criminal records apply for a government document called a pardon.
What is a pardon?
A pardon is granted by the National Parole Board of Canada, and being granted one means an individual’s criminal record will be removed from all federal databases and permanently sealed away (with a few exceptions). There are millions Canadians living with a criminal record today, and only a small number of them end up applying for a pardon. Of the more than 400 000 pardons granted by the National Parole Board since 1970, 96% of them are still in force. This evidence shows that the vast majority of individuals who get a pardon truly wish to live as law-abiding citizens.
Changes to the Criminal Records Act
On June 17, 2010, MP’s voted to pass a bill known as bill C-23A, known as the Limiting Pardons for Serious Crimes Act. Once this bill becomes law (this is expected to happen before July 5), individuals with criminal records for the following convictions will be forced to wait at least 10 years before they become eligible to apply for a pardon:
·         Manslaughter (for which at least 2 years in prison were served)
·         A Schedule 1 indictable or summary offence
·         Any indictable conviction for which at least 5 years were served in prison
·         A Service offence under the National Defence Act
Individuals with criminal records for these convictions will be forced to wait longer, and once they can apply, they must prove to the National Parole Board (the Board responsible for making decisions regarding pardons) that being granted the pardon would provide them with a measurable benefit, and would aid in their rehabilitation into law-abiding society.
The New Criminal Records Act and Rehabilitation
Once the new Criminal Records Act becomes law, many people with criminal records will find it much more difficult, and for some individuals, almost impossible to get a pardon. Criminal records will continue to create a barrier to living a normal life, and will in fact impede their efforts to rehabilitate into lawful society. Unable to live a normal life, and rejected by society because of the stigma of a criminal record, the new Criminal Records Act may in fact create an even more slippery slope for these individuals. The results of this Act becoming law could lead to an increased risk that people will commit more crimes in the future, leading to more time in court and jail. It is not in Canadians’ best interests to allow this to happen, both from a social and purely economical standpoint. When individuals commit crimes, there are almost always victims who suffer well after the crime has been committed and the sentence served. More crimes being committed means more victims being created, something we would all prefer to avoid. From the economical standpoint, putting these repeat offenders back in jail (for increased jail times no less) will create a larger burden on tax payers, who must now pay to support these individuals, instead of providing them with the tools (through social programs) to help themselves.
For more information on criminal records, pardons, and the new criminal records legislation, please visit Pardons.ca.

If you have a past criminal record and are interested in receiving a pardon, here is the contact information you need: 
Website: www.pardons.ca
Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-535-2429
Blog: http://blog.pardons.ca

Thanks again to Lesley Atkinson for this guest article! If anybody else involved in criminal justice agencies or organizations wishes to write a guest article for my blog, please direct your inquiries to brittanymaria423@aol.com 


Jury deliberations begin in teen's second degree murder trial

Audrey Cooper was brutally beaten to death by a group of teenagers roaming through Winnipeg’s core looking for random victims to attack.
Three young girls have already admitted to their roles in her October 2006 slaying, which police called one of the worst in the city’s recent history. Now the fourth, and final, accused is about to learn his fate.
Jury deliberations began Tuesday afternoon for the 19-year-old man, who can’t be named because he was only 15 at the time. He pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder when his trial began earlier this month.
Crown attorney Ami Kotler told jurors in closing arguments last week they should have no trouble finding him guilty of second-degree murder. The accused admitted to police he "punched" Cooper, while other witnesses have described him as also joining in on the kicking and stomping of the unconscious woman.
Cooper, 34, suffered 64 separate injuries in the unprovoked attack, which came after she refused the teen’s requests for a cigarette. They included seven broken ribs, a lacerated liver, swelling that shut both of her eyes and bleeding on the brain. She was also stripped naked and left to die.
The most damning evidence came from the youngest killer, who was just 12 at the time and testified last week how the man on trial urinated on Cooper’s body before fleeing the scene. Kotler said the fact police found a pool of urine at the crime scene proves the girl is telling the truth.
However, defence lawyer Ian Histed has accused the Crown’s key witness of exaggerating his client’s involvement in order to escape prosecution on more serious charges. She denied the suggestion while being cross-examined. The girl signed a deal with justice officials to testify in exchange for her second-degree murder charge being dropped to manslaughter. She then pleaded guilty and got the maximum youth sentence of two years custody and one year of community supervision.
The two other girls, who were 14 at the time, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and were given the maximum youth sentence of four years of custody and three years of community supervision.

I believe that their is a reasonable doubt as to this man's guilt on the second degree murder charge. I do not believe he intentionally and deliberately participated in the killing of the female victim. As his defence lawyer previously stated, all three other accused had blood on them and forensic evidence linking them to the crime but the male accused did not. He may have been merely an observer but took no active role in the attack. The accused only admitted to punching the victim once, to police. That should not warrant a second degree murder conviction, but instead one of aggravated assault. Even the Crown agrees that he himself, did not commit the murder. This teen should receive no more than 2 years in prison. I would also like to know more about this teen's background life and mitigating factors. I believe that the key witness could be falsely implicating the accused so she could escape more severe prosecution. I think she exaggerated the accused's involvement to get a better deal for herself. The defence lawyer said that when she got arrested, she didn't tell police a thing. But 2 years later, she knew there couldn't be a deal unless she gave a statement. I also think she was too intoxicated to remember her own involvement in the death, let alone the male accused's. 

I think that this male accused should be found not guilty of second degree murder, but guilty of either manslaughter or aggravated assault, because he did admit to punching the victim, which could have contributed to her injuries and death. 

Chronic drunk driver gets 8 months in prison-- has been battling alcohol addiction

A Manitoba judge had some chilling words Tuesday for a chronic drunk driver she sentenced to eight months in prison after briefly considering a much longer period behind bars.
"I’m going to wonder for some time if I’ve given you the opportunity to go kill someone," Queen’s Bench Justice Colleen Suche said in setting aside her concerns and agreeing to a joint-recommendation from Crown and defence lawyers. She noted the Manitoba Court of Appeal has strict guidelines on when a judge can override plea bargains struck by experienced counsel.

Ivan Popovic, 43, pleaded guilty to driving his car at more than triple the legal limit for an incident that dates back to July 2006 and has been dragging through the courts. Several motorists called 911 to report a vehicle travelling the wrong way down a single-lane Manitoba highway just north of Powerview. RCMP arrived to find Popovic had crashed into a ditch and was staggering near the scene. His speech was slurred, eyes bloodshot and police had to help prop him up to walk to his cruiser.
"We’re quite concerned a man who couldn’t even walk was behind the wheel," Crown attorney Debbie Buors told court. Police also found two bags of marijuana hidden inside his vehicle.

Popovic has three prior drunk driving convictions, along with three other incidents of driving while disqualified. He has battled alcohol addiction for years with little success, despite numerous attempts at court-ordered treatment and programming. His last impaired conviction in 2005 led to a five-month jail term.

"Without treatment he’s a menace to society. You’re just a walking time bomb," Suche said. "It’s one thing to take yourself out. It’s another to take others out. You may as well be walking around with a loaded gun."
Suche was considering a sentence of two years in federal prison for Popovic, which she said would give him access to much better treatment options than what a provincial jail would offer.
"I’m very concerned he needs major treatment. I’m concerned eight months in Headingley isn’t sufficient to address those concerns," said Suche.

Defence lawyer John Corona told her such a penalty would far exceed the typical range for a case of impaired driving where there was no bodily injury or death to anyone. He described Popovic as a "sweetheart" when he’s not drinking.
Suche ultimately agreed to the proposed sentence and also put Popovic on three years of supervised probation - the longest allowed by law - upon his release from jail. 
His conditions include abstaining from alcohol and not being anywhere that it is served.
She also suspended him from driving for five years, although Corona said his client may face a lifetime ban from provincial officials because of his record.

I agree with the 8 months prison time, due to this man's prior driving record, that a more restrictive sanction is warranted. I also agree with the probation but feel that the conditions are not helpful. He should be required to attend substance abuse counseling as well, in a more intensive program. I would also like to know more about this man's background and mitigating factors. 

This article is biased in that it makes it appear to the uneducated reader, that this sentence is too lenient, when really, it is appropriate, considering the circumstances. This man has never killed or harmed anybody and a more serious sanction would be unjust and inappropriate. 

I also completely disagree with mandatory minimum sentences, such as those imposed for impaired driving. They do not deter, prevent or reduce crime. They cause further prison overcrowding and often individuals are sentenced too harshly because of them. They also leave judges with no discretion in considering all circumstances of an offender and their crime, but instead implying that all crimes are equal, when they are not. 

Too bad alcohol detectors didn't come as standard equipment on all vehicles. When alcohol is detected through skin contact via the steering wheel, the ignition could be disabled. (I have no idea whether this is scientifically possible but if they can design ankle bracelets to detect alcohol use, I can't see why the same principle couldn't be used.)

Do we even have alcohol-detecting ankle bracelets in Manitoba?

The judge "noted the Manitoba Court of Appeal has strict guidelines on when a judge can override plea bargains struck by experienced counsel." Obviously her hands were tied. If she had imposed a longer sentence, it would have been overturned on appeal so what's the point? I suppose that however much time he spent in Stony might give him better alcohol treatment than he'd receive in Headingley but who knows how long he'd be there before the decision was overturned?

It's a bad situation. You can't sentence the guy based on what he might do in the future. But, as the judge said, he's a walking time bomb. I wonder what sentences he received previously? Then again, maybe I don't want to know.

I agree with the 8 months, considering his previous driving record. A more restrictive sanction was warranted. I also agree with the probation but feel that the conditions are not helpful at all. This man suffers from an alcohol addiction and cannot simply abstain from alcohol. Firstly, he needs more intensive treatment to help him deal with his problem. 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Would ending prohibition of illicit drugs reduce crime?

I heard our old friend Craig Jones from the John Howard Society talking on a Victoria B.C. radio station recently.
Among other things, Jones said the single biggest contributor to violent crime was the prohibition of illicit drugs. He says prohibition has been an abject failure.
He went on to say that when drug busts take place, there’s a spike in violent crime that occurs as the remaining organized criminals in the area fight for market share.
So I sent a few e-mails to Jones asking him two questions:
1) I asked him to provide me with statistics that show how violent crime spikes in Canadian cities after drug busts. After all, Jones always tells us that it’s important to make statements based on evidence. Unfortunately, he had no evidence at all to support his claim that violence goes up after busts, at least not for Canada. He sent me a bunch of studies from other countries which are not relevant. If you claim violence goes up in Canada after drug busts, you have to be able to substantiate that claim with credible statistics or the claims are meaningless.
2) I also asked Jones what the alternatives are to the prohibition of illicit drugs such as crystal meth and crack cocaine. Again, he had no answer other than to say he would like to somehow end the criminal market for these drugs.
I invited Jones onto this blog to share his views further.

I believe that ending prohibition of marijuana especially, would reduce crime. It would take the drugs out of the hands of violent gangs and put them into the hands of government officials, where they could be regulated properly. It would decrease the demand for street drugs, help to free up the court system and reduce prison overcrowding. Non-violent drug dealers and offenders should not be imprisoned, as most often, they do not pose a threat to the safety of society. They should be free to use drugs, if that's what they choose. Prohibition and the war on drugs is a failure. Just look at the US! They imprison many non-violent drug offenders, and it fails to reducing, preventing or deterring further drug crimes and also fails at addressing the root causes and contributing factors to crime. Instead of spending money to incarcerate and criminalize more drug offenders, we should be spending money on addictions prevention programs and substance abuse programs. 

I don't agree with the more harmful and addictive drugs being legalized such as meth and cocaine, but I do feel that marijuana should be legalized or decriminalized. It is less harmful than alcohol and alcohol is legal. Other countries have had success by decriminalizing marijuana. It would also free up police so they could concentrate on more violent crimes and pressing investigations. Substance abuse is a personal choice and people aren't going to quit because it's illegal. Prohibition doesn't reduce crime. 

There are alternatives to the criminal prohibition of drugs such as cocaine and crystal meth. Different regulatory models could be applied to different drugs and forms of drugs. Regulatory models could also vary by consumer. For example, the NAOMI project in Vancouver provided pharmaceutical grade heroin to addicts who had tried and failed with methadone. It remains illegal to sell tobacco to minors. It is illegal to sell alcohol to someone in a drinking establishment who is obviously impaired. Both crack and meth are consequences of prohibition. Prohibition failed to "control" these drugs and made them more profitable, addictive, harmful and potent. We should not leave any drugs under the control of gang members and teenagers, especially not just the most dangerous ones. Prohibition is not working and could not be enforced more vigorously, and there is no empirical evidence to suggest it IS working. There is little evidence to support this drug control strategy and it is simply criminalizing millions of Canadians. It is a victimless crime. Criminalizing marijuana leaves many Canadians with a criminal record which limits their employment, travel and housing opportunities. 

Legalizing drugs would benefit taxpayers financially because Millions of tax dollars are spent on the illegal drug industry mainly by law enforcement and the courts. These groups want to protect their “turf” and want to keep drugs illegal to keep the gravy flowing. Legalization would be a disaster for them…..their budgets would be slashed dramatically. Taxpayers, on the other hand, would benefit as there would be no need to sink millions in tax dollars into fighting this useless “drug war”.

People will not start using more drugs if they become legal. I’m sure non users have already tried drugs and determined that there not for them. The current users don’t really care if it’s legal or not…they use anyway. The only difference is that they won’t have to appear in court or go to jail for using.

I found it amazing that after the Canadian Senate and House of Commons said we should decriminalize marijuana the Conservative govenment went the other way.
The same is happening with the file sharing legislation, after the Supreme Court had said it should be legal, the Conservative govenment is bringing in a bill to make it illegal.
We can continue to argue the pros and cons of decriminalizing drugs, but if the profits of a government supporter are jeopardized, the government will always side with their supporters rather than the Canadian public.
This is a shame, because if Canadians could grow their own pot, it would open more prison cells for violent criminals, free up court rooms, free up Crown attorneys and allow the police to go after more meth and coke dealers. Not to mention the money we are wasting paying for a Senate and Supreme Court.

A blanket approach to legalizing drugs would decrease crime. We have seen it work with alcohol and gambling. But like cigarette smoking it will cause more money to be spent on health care.
Less money on courts and more money on health care…would it make a difference?

Addicts would no longer have to resort to crime to pay for their habit, as prices would be cheaper if legalized. 

Grant asked “How will taxing bring down the price?”
The cost of producing most illicit drugs is trivial. For example, growing cannabis is no more difficult nor costly than growing parsley, which means we can tax it quite a bit and still undercut the black market.
Ivan asked “the government has taxed the hell out of cigarettes already and it hasn’t made up for increased healthcare costs, has it?”
The health care costs of tobacco are an order of magnitude greater than the health care costs associated with illicit drugs, on a per user basis, and most
of the health care costs associated with illicit drugs are made worse by, if not caused by, criminal prohibition. Adulteration, lack of labeling, varying potency, most efficient means of ingestion, etc.
Further, because psychoactive substances are economic substitutes with cross-price elasticities, if illicit drug use goes up following legalization, (and there is no reason to believe it will), alcohol use will go down, reducing overall drug-related health care costs.
“And what about the possibility of someone trying to undercut the “official” price by selling their own supply?”
Our communities are not full of tobacco grow-ops and clandestine distilleries,
suggesting that black marketeers are unlikely to attempt to compete with a legally regulated market.
For the sake of simple math, let’s say cannabis costs $200.00 per ounce
now. Grown in large-scale greenhouses, it would costs a couple of dollars per ounce to produce. If legal cannabis retails for, say, $20.00 per ounce, then about 40 per cent could be profit and about 40 per cent could be sin tax.
Meanwhile, the bad guys will need to decide if they want to try to undercut the market by dropping their prices from $200.00 to less than $20.00 per ounce. If they do, and succeed, then at a minimum, they will be making much less money. They might consider switching to methamphetamine,
but the market for meth is very small compared to the market for weed.
Yes, people do brew their own beer and make their own wine, and no doubt some sell their surplus, but most consumers buy their tobacco and alcohol from the legal market and pay sales tax. I do not think Molson feels very threatened by U-Brew.

The war on drugs will never be won until people stop taking them.
Those folks who do drugs don’t care if they are illegal, that is a great part of the original attraction…especially for teens. Take away the thrill of being naughty and much of the drug problem will disappear. Then we will be left with the true hard-core druggies who have chosen to spend their lives in la-la-land and sleeping in the great outdoors. Some of those might want to change also when they find themselves to be a less major group.
I have never done drugs, do not have an addictive personality, for which I thank God and I think legalizing the lessor drugs like marjiuana could be the start of something good.
The present system isn’t working so why not try something different?
I like the idea of reducing the tax-payers costs of fighting an unwinable war.
Then lets look into the upbringings that are the cause of so much trouble. The ones that create passive-aggressives and narcissists. The ones that are emotionally and psychologically abusive.
1.) How would decriminalization/govt. control of narcotics and other hard-core illicit drugs affect organized crime, price and usage?
Heroin and other opiates are as addictive as tobacco and have more of a negative impact on society (i.e. socially, economically). Usage would increase and like other govt. controlled vices, the price would be as high or higher as it is now. This course of action would have enormous negative societal consequences that go way beyond crime.
2. What about ’soft drugs’ (cannibis products, magic mushrooms)?
Here, it makes sense logistically to decriminalize, but not legalize. This would free police to pursue organized crime for trafficking narcotics and weapons while leaving society to educate and street-proof their kids from abusing soft drugs and alcohol. These are crutches for the antisocial and abused, and addictions to these substances are best dealt with by addiction and guidance counselors, not the police.

In many ways, illegal drugs are like blood diamonds. If no one wanted to buy them, an awful lot of suffering would be alleviated around the world. But people do want to buy them, and they always will. It’s completely unethical for political leaders in developed countries to continue to ignore the very real power they have to improve the situation — by liberalizing drug laws and thereby weakening criminal elements both at home and abroad.
I’d be willing to support outright legalization of all drugs simply because the current approach has been such an unmitigated, disastrous failure. But there’s a lot of room between outright legalization and the status quo. As a first step, we could decriminalize marijuana, as Jean Chr├ętien pretended to want to do and as several American states have actually done.
Instead, the Canadian government proposes to enact a mandatory six-month minimum sentence for possession of as few as six marijuana plants. Think about that. If Canadians are going to smoke pot anyway — and they are — it is indisputably better that they grow it themselves on their own windowsills or in small-scale hydroponic operations, or purchase it from friends who do so, as opposed to buying it from a criminal dealer. Yet the tough-on-crime gang in Ottawa seems utterly determined to entrench marijuana production as strictly a criminal enterprise.

What’s important to remember is that drugs are harmful and definitely the Government needs to make this aware and continue to advocate abstinence. After that said, it serves no one any good to prevent anyone from using drugs. If you chose to take drugs and destroy your life, so be it. Be aware that you are not to impedes or harm the next person.
There’s a long list of history that shows society has never been close to controlling the use of drugs but rather inflamed the user and criminal activity.


Monday, June 28, 2010

Jail is no place for teen who has been compliant on bail for over a year

Jail is no place for a Winnipeg teen who sparked a June 2009 attack that saw a 64-year-old man sliced with a machete, a court was told Monday.
The now 18-year-old man has had no more run-ins with the law since being released on bail a year ago, said defence lawyer Jody Ostapiw, adding it would be “nonsensical” to send her client to jail.

Ostapiw recommended Judge Ted Lismer sentence the man to 18 months supervised probation, with an absolute curfew for the first six months of the sentence. “(Probation) would be far more effective than ripping this young man from his home where he has been compliant for a year,” Ostapiw said.
Crown attorney Susan Baragar argued the man should not receive a more lenient sentence than two male co-accused who were not released on bail.
A then-16-year-old co-accused was previously sentenced to 18 months in jail. A 15-year-old co-accused was sentenced to just under one year in jail.
“This kind of behaviour must attract a custodial sentence,” said Baragar, who urged Lismer to sentence the man to 15 months in jail.
Court heard the then 17-year-old accused had been drinking heavily and was in the company of two youths he had met that same day when the trio came across the victim shortly after midnight, walking in the vicinity of Aberdeen Avenue and McGregor Street.
The victim was “minding his own business” when the accused instigated a verbal exchange with the victim and punched him in the head, knocking him to the ground, Baragar said. The accused sprayed him with bear repellent and kicked him in the head.
The two co-accused joined in the attack, the older of the two slicing the victim in the shoulder with a machete.
Court heard the victim continues to have difficulties raising his arm, has trouble with his eyes and is unable to work.
Lismer adjourned sentencing to July 15.

I agree with the defence lawyer in this case. Prison is no place for this man. If he has demonstrated good behaviour while on bail, there is no further need to imprison him, as he has proven that he is not a danger to society any further. Prison is the school of crime and is a negative environment filled with drugs, gangs and pro criminal attitudes and behaviours and values. I would like to know more information on this man's background life and mitigating factors, but I agree with the supervised probation as a recommended sentence for this man along with emotion management, substance abuse, violence prevention programming. Jail is not necessary to protect the public from this man.

Crime is a top isse for Winnipeg voters: CBC poll

Crime and infrastructure were top issues among Winnipeggers surveyed in the CBC poll. 
Crime and infrastructure were top issues among Winnipeggers surveyed in the CBC poll. Crime is the most important issue Winnipeggers want the city's next mayor to address, an opinion poll conducted exclusively for CBC News has found.
Incumbent Mayor Sam Katz holds an 11 percentage point lead over rival Judy Wasylycia-Leis, the poll of 600 voters by Probe Research found.
The survey, conducted between June 8 and June 22, is considered accurate within plus or minus four per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Supporters of both Katz and Wasylycia-Leis identified crime as their primary concern, with 33 per cent of Katz's supporters and 28 per cent of Wasylycia-Leis's supporters saying the issue was top on their list.
Supporters of each candidate also agree the next mayor should address the state of Winnipeg's infrastructure (16 per cent of Wasylycia-Leis supporters and 16 per cent of Katz supporters) and the condition of city streets (14 per cent of Katz supporters and 11 per cent of Wasylycia-Leis supporters).
Eleven per cent of supporters for each candidate said rapid transit should be the top priority for the next mayor.
Those surveyed who say they plan to vote for Wasylycia-Leis were more likely to say poverty is the most important issue facing Winnipeg (17 per cent versus 9 per cent of those who plan to vote for Katz).
Six per cent of Wasylica-Leis supporters as opposed to just one per cent of Katz supporters feel "transparency" or "open and honest government" at City Hall is the No. 1 issue.
Those intending to vote for Katz, on the other hand, are more likely to urge their candidate to focus on economic development (11 per cent versus 5 per cent of Wasylycia-Leis supporters) and hiring more police officers (7 per cent versus one percent of those among Wasylycia-Leis supporters.
A majority of Conservative Party supporters back Katz. A majority of NDP supporters back Wasylycia-Leis. 
A majority of Conservative Party supporters back Katz. A majority of NDP supporters back Wasylycia-Leis.
I agree. Crime is a major issue in Winnipeg, especially with gangs. We need to invest in crime prevention programs, reducing poverty, unemployment, addictions and implementing more mental health services for all people. We do not need to get tough on crime, as that has been proven ineffective in the long term and can actually increase the rates of re-offending. What we need to do, is get smart on crime by addressing the root causes and contributing factors of crime. Unfortunately, the mayor can have no real impact on crime. It is the domain of the federal lawmakers who have all the impact. It is a federal responsibility. The city of Winnipeg is responsible for policing, not incarcerating criminals. Legislation, corrections and justice are all the responsibility of provincial and federal governments. Helping to reduce poverty could also help to reduce crime and address its root cause. 
The root caues of both crime and poverty is broken families. Although poverty is viewed as the cause of crime, a fatherless society is a much stronger indicator. Poverty, like crime, is a symptom of social disfunction, not a cause. 
Poverty is the obvious priority. Not only does it address poverty but it also address one of the biggest causes of crime. Vote smart and vote for someone who understands the root causes of crime.

Vince Li's supervised walks will not be appealed by the Crown-- Review Board's decision upheld

The Crown attorney's office in Manitoba has decided not to appeal a decision that granted Greyhound bus killer Vince Li his first small taste of freedom.
The Crown says there are no legal grounds to challenge a ruling by a criminal review board to allow Li short, supervised walks on the grounds of the mental hospital where he is being held.
Li was found not criminally responsible for stabbing and beheading Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus in July 2008.
He has been held in a locked section of the Selkirk Mental Hospital north of Winnipeg.
The Criminal Code Review Board, which examines Li's care every year, decided in the spring that he should be allowed to walk outside, as long as he is with two staff members at all times. It would start at 15 minutes a day and work up gradually to two hours a day.
The decision was a blow to the victim's family, who want Li locked up for the rest of his life.
Manitoba Attorney General Andrew Swan has said Li's walks will not start until the mental hospital increases security measures.

Crown won't fight Li's strolls
The Crown will not appeal a decision to allow Vince Li to stroll the grounds of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.
Manitoba's deputy attorney general Don Slough said a review of the Manitoba Criminal Code Review Board's May 31 decision determined that there are no legal grounds to appeal the order. The Crown had originally opposed the supervised passes for Li.
"The test was whether the decision was reasonable," Slough said. "There is no legal basis for an appeal."
The board's decision kicked off a political firestorm earlier this month when it said Li could have two brief supervised outdoor passes a day.
Attorney General Andrew Swan said that Li would not receive supervised walks outside of the centre's forensic unit "unless and until" unspecified new security measures were in place that satisfied the government. Those plans are still being formalized.
Swan was also roundly criticized by mental health advocates for his stance.
On Monday, Progressive Conservative Justice Critic Kelvin Goertzen said Swan's tough comments and the decision not to appeal appear to be a case of one hand not knowing what the other is doing within the Justice Department.
"You can't on one day say you don't agree with the ruling and the next day not appeal it," Goertzen said.
Goertzen said Swan has to tell the public what the new security measures are to stay true to his word.
A spokesman for the centre has said it was working on a plan that would allow Li the daily walks without compromising security.
Li was found not criminally responsible last year for the 2008 beheading of 22-year-old Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus near Portage la Prairie. He admitted responsibility for the attack but a judge found him to be suffering from hallucinations and untreated schizophrenia at the time, which left him unable to appreciate or control his actions.
Li is already getting fresh air and limited exercise in a small courtyard attached to the centre's secure forensic unit.
At the original hearing, Dr. Stevenr Kraemer told the board that Li was ready to start receiving supervised passes that let him out of his locked ward.
Kraemer said Li's treatment team endorsed the idea of letting him outside twice a day, up to 15 minutes each time. Kraemer said Li's opportunities could gradually be increased to a pair of daily one-hour leaves.
Li was to be accompanied by one nurse and one security guard at all times, which is an increase of the typical one-on-one supervision other residents receive.
The grounds are not surrounded by any fence or barrier and extra staff would likely have to be hired to accommodate the resources needed for Li, he said.

Crown will not appeal Li's walks
The Crown will not appeal a decision to allow Vince Li to stroll the grounds of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, a spokesperson said Monday.
The province's Justice Department conducted a thorough review of the Manitoba Criminal Code Review Board's May 31 decision and found that there are no legal grounds to appeal the order, Manitoba's deputy attorney general Don Slough said.
The Crown had opposed the supervised passes for Li.
"The test was whether the decision was reasonable," Slough said. "There is no legal basis for an appeal."
The board's decision kicked off a political firestorm earlier this month when it said Li could have two brief supervised outdoor passes a day.
Attorney General Andrew Swan said that Li would not receive supervised walks outside of the centre's forensic unit "unless and until" unspecified new security measures were in place that satisfied the government. Swan was roundly criticized by mental health advocates for his stance.
The Centre responded it was working on a plan that would allow Li the daily walks and not compromise security.
Li was found not criminally responsible last year for the 2008 beheading of 22-year-old Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus near Portage la Prairie. He admitted responsibility for the attack but a judge found him to be suffering from hallucinations and untreated schizophrenia at the time, which left him unable to appreciate or control his actions.
Li is already getting fresh air and limited exercise in a small courtyard attached to the centre's secure forensic unit.

Escorted walks for Li won't be appealed
The Crown will not be appealing a decision allowing Greyhound bus killer Vincent Li escorted walks outside the walls of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.
“The test is reasonableness,” Don Slough, director of prosecutions, said Monday. “We determined there is no basis for an appeal.”
On May 31, the Manitoba Criminal Code Review Board approved handing Li passes on the centre’s unfenced grounds, provided he be escorted by two staff members, with at least one having a two-way radio or cellphone in case of trouble.
Li, 42, was found not criminally responsible last year in the July 2008 stabbing death and dismemberment of Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus near Portage la Prairie.
Slough said the review board is made up by experts who applied the law in reaching their decision.
“The only time (the Court of Appeal) would intervene is if they looked at (the decision) and said ‘I don’t know how you could reach that conclusion,’” Slough said.
The review board’s decision was opposed by Justice Minister Andrew Swan, who said last month Li will not be allowed outside the hospital until tighter security measures are in place.
“I am disappointed that there are no grounds for appeal but I have full confidence in the Crown’s analysis,” Swan said through a spokeswoman Monday.
“I have written to the federal minister of justice to ask that public safety receive priority for cases before the (board).”
It remains unclear when hospital officials are expected to allow Li outside. A review board report released earlier this month said the hospital has begun to hire and train security staff who will be designated peace officers trained to pursue and apprehend patients attempting to escape.

I am so glad that the Crown has decided NOT to appeal the review board's decision! The review board is comprised of educated professionals in the area of mental illnesses and they have treated Li, so they would have considered if allowing him short walks would pose a risk to the public safety and clearly, they decided that the risk was minimal. Li is in a completely different state of mind now, than he was two years ago and deserves to be treated humanely and to be allowed short and supervised walks outside. It would be beneficial to his treatment, as confinement can cause further mental health issues such as depression. Li is mentally ill and should not be treated worse than a criminal/prisoner, because legally, he did not commit a crime and should not be referred to as a "killer." Allowing him short and supervised walks, while under medication, would not pose a risk to anybody. It's not like he is going to escape and kill somebody else! This is not a dangerous activity and if he posed a risk to the public, the educated review board would not have permitted these walks. Their opinions should be trusted and upheld. Li needs help, not further deprivations and loss of human rights. 

Many members of the public advocate for capital punishment, deportation, imprisonment and worse. All of these acts for the mentally ill, are barbaric, inhumane and uncivilized. We no longer live in the dark ages! The public is largely ignorant and lacks understanding and knowledge about mental illnesses and simply has a desire for revenge, against this man, who had no conscious understanding of what he was doing and his actions were unintentional. He was not mentally present when he committed the act. Yes, the actions he committed were horrific and gruesome and he stole an innocent life, but it was not his fault! And two wrongs don't make a right. Just because he committed an inhumane act, does not mean that we deny this mentally ill man his basic human rights. There is a difference between justice and revenge. What the public is calling for, is revenge. Vince Li received justice, because justice is fair and appropriate not vengeful. 

I understand why Tim McLean's family would be upset by this decision by the Crown and why they continually seek revenge. What happened to their son was horrific. But they have to remember that Vince Li is mentally ill and was not in control of his actions. I do not blame them for being upset, but Li deserves basic care and human rights and part of that is being allowed a certain amount of exercise and fresh air. It's not like he is being released. It's supervised walks. Even serial killers and the most hardened criminals are granted that much. Li is entitled to his human rights like any other Canadian citizen, exercise and fresh air, being one of them. Besides revenge, there is no acceptable reason to confine this man without access to fresh air and sunshine. Anything less, is inhumane and unacceptable. Being draconian and barbaric, will never bring Tim McLean back to life. God says that we are supposed to love one another, care for one another and forgive. Vince Li deserves this. The victim's family has a bloodlust and thirst for inhumane cruelty. We should not punish the mentally ill for actions which were out of their control. It is humane to allow him supervised walks outside. What the victim's family is advocating for, is barbaric and inhumane. We need to extend Li some human compassion as he attempts to recover a normal and sound mind. Many of the public appear to have no experience with mental illness, but in fact, a paranoid schizophrenia like Li when his brain is behaving normally, is just as horrified as the rest of society about what he did. Schizophrenia can be effectively managed and controlled. I wonder, what is wrong with some people? They are not releasing Li. They are allowing him to receive supervised and short walks. That is humane treatment and even the worst criminals get time outside in the exercise yard. Why should this mentally ill man not get the same if not better treatment and rights?

The Old Testament's "an eye for an eye" retributive justice approach, is considered uncivilized, inhumane and barbaric in today's modern and civilized society with advanced research and knowledge into mental illnesses. That law no longer applies to a civilized society. It is barbaric.

Legally, Li is an innocent person. He is not a criminal and should not be treated worse than one. 

Well folks, the truth of the matter is that all incarcerated criminals, regardless of the crime they did, are allowed to attend outside recreation. Even federal offenders in segregation must be offered at least 1 hour outdoors a day. This is something provided in the Canadian Charter of Human Rights- do your research! This isn't day parole, this is ESCORTED WALKS ON THE PREMISES- he can't leave the facility.

Why would anyone want the crown to appeal this anyway? It's a walk. Who cares? Would you rather it get dragged through court and waste time, money and resources? Some of you people need to get a life and quit complaining about EVERYTHING!

Now, I know some of you seem to think that Vince Li will be allowed to go wherever he bloody well pleases and that he'll most likely show up at your door tomorrow morning wielding an ax, even though the story clearly indicates he'll be under supervision and on the grounds of the facility where he is being kept.

Then again, don't let facts stand in the way of making up all sorts of ridiculousness.

My god. This guy is being escorted outside for a walk..on the grounds of the hospital. Relax people. He isn't going to break out and escape.

I don't believe that Tim McLean, who was known and loved as a compassionate, fair, and tolerant man, would have wished for cruel and/or unusual punishment for Mr. Li, who is clearly a very sick person, not an evil one.

It is unfortunate that the extreme bigotry and prejudice against the mentally ill is so profound in this modern time, as evidenced by the absurd and ignorant comments on this article and all others like it.

If anyone is to blame for this tragedy, it is a system which fails to offer treatment and intervention for mentally ill people prior to incidents like this, and a society far too tolerant of idiots like those posters who propagate prejudice and create a terrible stigma around mental illness which prevents people from choosing to seek treatment.

I understand that the family is angry and could have a negative reaction to this, but the media really went out of control with making this into a story. If he was convicted and sent to a regular jail instead of an institution he wouldn't sit in a solitary cell for the rest of his life either. Being locked up for life doesn't literally mean you are sitting in chains and can't move. It means being stuck in the facility for the rest of his life, and I don't see him getting out anytime soon, if ever.

Vincent Li had a psychotic episode and did what he did, but really, he's still a human being. Most of you would give him less exercise than a cow. Anyone who's ever known someone as ill as Li knows that the medications used to control psychotic episodes (primarily Lithium) have numerous shitty side effects, and he can hardly be blamed for not taking them. I don't hear this kind of outrage when a drunk-driver kills someone, when they're at least as culpable as Li for their actions!

I agree with anyone who believes that Li should be institutionalized for the rest of his life for the public good, but to deny him a walk outside with two trained health care professionals is absurd. A healthier Vincent Li makes for safer surroundings for those same employees, and it surely can't hurt to burn his remaining energy (lithium makes zombies of those who take it).

All you Bible-belters should endeavour to remember to whom vengeance belongs. Hint: it's not you.

"Considering everything that Li did to Tim McLean, how can they say he was not criminally responsible? That I don't understand. Something like that in another country Li would have gotten a death sentence or behind bars for the rest of his life. I guess only in Canada one can get a free pass. How do they know Li is not faking and putting on a good show? This situation is what makes it embarrassing for me to be a Canadian. Get rid of the Trudeau's slap on the wrist laws and make some serious real laws."

"The juridical view of schizophrenia seems profoundly flawed. Mental illness is, to be sure, a terrible disability. But so is violent death. Deluded and hallucinatory as he may have been - and psychiatry has not yet demonstrated reliable methods of diagnosing such states - Vince Li nevertheless committed a terrible murder.

Murder is a criminal act. Li committed murder. He is criminally responsible for the murder of Tim McLean. To find otherwise is a serious error both in logic and in law.

Only a criminal code emasculated by the Trudeau Liberals would exempt a murderer from justice on the grounds that he was "unable to appreciate or control his actions."

This man should be in a prison, not a hospital."

So if he were in prison, without therapy or being monitored for taking his meds, you would be okay with him doing the same thing to another inmate or prison staff? Because that would without a doubt happen. Do your research please.

I'm so tired of the same ignorant opinions. This is why Canada is a nice place to live, because we are not blind to mental illness. Well I guess some of us still are, unfortunately. You cannot fake mental illness to the degree he did for that long. I strongly suggest doing some open-minded research before regurgitating the same ignorant responses everyone else has already made hundreds of times. There is a difference between schizophrenia and a cold-blooded murderer who knew what they were doing. I don't have the room to go into detail, so do the work yourself before making unintelligent comments.

On a side note, I do agree for real criminals there should be harsher sentences, and I do think there should be more safety measures before Li takes these walks, but other than that you are all wrong.

perhaps you should look up mental illness in the dictionary and then compare that with what criminal behaviour is. You seem to be smart enough to use a computer so i assume you can educate yourself on these issues.

Swan didn't have a legal leg to stand on when he overruled the board's decision. Notice how his deputy gave the news that there won't be an appeal? Heaven forbid Swan himself should admit he was freaking WRONG. Let some underling do the dirty work and keep the spotlight off himself. I only wish Swan had appealed and ended up being scolded by a judge for bypassing the legal appeal process.

Now the only unanswered question I have is whether the SMHC is going to comply with Swan's orders to "beef up" security.

I'm glad we have clinical psychologists like you posting on here. It's embarrassing that we have Canadians with the reasoning skills of most posters on here. Maybe we should look at helping our school systems so future Internet posters can make actual meaningful and well thought out comments. But I doubt that's possible.

"How do they know Li is not faking and putting on a good show?"

That would have to have been one heck of a show since his wife disclosed that he was behaving bizarrely years before that, others noticed some odd behaviour, and an Ontario hospital allegedly diagnosed schizophrenia years before too. Was all that history just his diabolical way of setting the stage for committing a future murder? Hardly.

It is unfortunate that the ignorance and lack of understanding surrounding mental illnesses is so profound in this modern time. I am shocked and disturbed by the vengeful and barbaric comments against someone who is clearly mentally ill. Anyone who is compassionate, fair and caring, should not oppose these supervised walks. Nobody should advocate for inhumane and barbaric punishments towards the mentally ill. Advocating for revenge on this man, will not bring the victim back an is useless. Li deserves to have his human rights upheld and allowing him short, supervised walks would not pose a risk to anybody.

everyone else comparing Canada to places like China-If you think their justice system is so great, move there. We live in 2010 here in Canada and most of us have evolved to the point where we understand mental illness. There is a DIFFERENCE between regular criminals and schizophrenics. PLEASE can you people just do your research before you come on this comment board? There's no point even explaining psychology to you. Either you'll take 20 minutes and read some info with an open mind, or you'll live in the 1800s forever.

comment was ignorant and there was little research or thought behind it. I would simply suggest you do some research on schizophrenia. Perhaps talk to people that have it or have known someone with it. You will find there most definitely is a difference between someone like Li and someone like Charles Manson or Paul Bernardo. Some may say they have mental problems too, and I would be inclined to agree. However, they were in their state of mind, aware of what they were doing and that it was wrong. Li on the other hand, was pretty much in a whole other world, one might say. The fact is, there is always a possibility Li may go off his meds if not monitored, that's why unfortunately he should stay locked up for the rest of his life. That being said, prison is not for him, a mental health facility where he can have safe and supervised walks are appropriate.

The fact is, he deserves at the very least what other murderers are allowed, to get walks outside,albeit within a secure area. Now,I also suggest to you that you do some research on schizophrenia. As I mentioned to Elizabeth above, he could always go off his meds, that's why he should stay locked up, but not in prison. It's too much of a risk to inmates and staff if he were to go off his meds.


This story mentioned the testimony of two psychiatrists at Li's trial. As to whether he had ever been on meds, I've seen conflicting information. One news source said that when Li was briefly hospitalized in Ontario, he'd been diagnosed with schizophrenia and prescribed medication with no mention of whether he actually took it. I mention that because Li refused treatment and left the hospital. Another source didn't mention he'd been diagnosed or received meds - just that he'd refused treatment.

The most reliable source, IMO, is the review board itself which talked about Li's background in their decision: "He had one psychiatric admission to hospital. In 2005, he went to Ontario from Winnipeg in search of employment. He was picked up by police walking on the highway on his way back to Winnipeg from Toronto and was admitted to William Osler Health Centre in Etobicoke. He was allowed to be discharged against medical advice and returned to Winnipeg, where he did not seek further psychiatric help." Later on where they gave the reasons for their decision they mentioned, "his history of being non-compliant with prescribed treatment" but gave no further details so whether that refers to the Etobicoke incident or not, I don't know.

What exactly do you mean by the "rights of victims"? I often hear the war cry, "What about the victim's rights?" and I think, "Um, what about them?" Tim McLean had a right to life and that was indeed taken from him. But since Tim is gone, what are the rights people think his family is being denied? The stock answer is usually "justice" but what does that mean exactly? It is not a "right" to be able to dictate the punishment and/or treatment of another individual. If it is, someone kindly point me to a reference in the Charter of Rights or the Criminal Code. Otherwise, I'll assume that it's the "right" to have revenge which isn't a right at all.

For gawd's sake ... the man's not a "bus killer."

He was ill and the docs say he's now safe enough to walk around.

To those calling for him being killed at the time of the homocide ... using your logic, we should be killing all the mentally ill as soon as they're diagnosed.

You can't punish the crazy out of him, no matter how much your sense of vengence bays for it.

Fact: This man committed a horrible crime.
Fact: This man was found not responsible for said crime because of a pre-existing mental condition.
Fact: This man is now in a secure mental hospital.
Opinion: This man is not a threat to society in his current locale.

It amazes me. The number of people on here who believe that we should torture and punish this individual by denying him walks outside. Even prison inmates get time outside and are able to socialize with other inmates. It seems almost a human need to feel fresh air in their lungs, maybe feel some sun or some rain. Denying someone these rights seems tortuous to me. Let the man have his walks. You never know, with the walks and some drugs, he might just be able to muster an apology (if he has not already).

I sympathize with the victim's family but I hope they realize that the man is ill not evil. He may need to be in custody for the rest of his life to protect the public and himself from harm but he needs treatment, not punishment.

Seems I'm hearing from the "torch and pitchford" crowd here.

Mr. Vincent Li is a "redeemable" person, unlike the proven psychopaths like Olsen/Bernardo/Holmolka/Kelly Ellard, ad nauseum.

I've dealt "one-on-one" with schizophenic persons, and I wouldn't wish this disease of mental illness on my worst enemy, or anyone else for that matter.

Mental illness affects 25% of all persons at any given time, and 100% of us can succumb to "aggravated emotional upset" at any given time.

Therefore: Let the person who is without 'sin' cast the first stone...

"To keep our community and our children safe he should be placed in prison, he could walk all he wants with no threat to us."

Perhaps you need to do a bit of reading about how mental patients fare in general prison populations. Assuming you care.

"My feelings have nothing to do with bigotry, racism or any other stupid comment so many bleeding hearts are spouting off"....and then you add: "Only in Canada where crime by immigrants is rewarded. Ugh!!!"

Sounds like a lot to do with bigotry and racism.

What does being an immigrant have to do with it?

Folks have to understand before when he migrated to canada,he is a normal person .let's try to have a cool mind to figure out here that he can be controled and even cured with medication. a few walk a day is good for sick people and we have experts to deal what is good for the patients,don't you think so ?

I really do not see what the "fuss" is all about.

Even prisons have outdoor grounds where the most heinous of criminals--even Paul Bernado--can probably hang around.

This guy isn't going to be let out to take long walks along the beach or a park. He's not going to be going to some shopping mall, either. He's not to be released on parole.

He is still institutionalized. This is not about letting him go free. Why is this so hard to grasp for some Canadians? Talk about making a mountain out of a molehilll.

Let's be rational, here. He is not getting walks outside the prison. Firstly, it's not a prison. Secondly, he's not gonna be strolling down Main Street while stopping to chat with the neighbours. He'll be walking on the hospital's property, supervised.

And for those of you who didn't care to read the entire article, it clearly states that these walks wouldn't commence until the facility's security measures were increases.

Lets start by comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges. Don't confuse a mentally ill person with a known disease, with a criminally insane person. Two different things entirely. Li did not premeditate the crime. It was a spur of the moment thing and he REALLY BELIEVED He WAS BEING THREATENED. Doesn't even come close to a sicko that lures people into their homes and then massacres them! You should read something more serious than the funny papers. Idiots like you are the reason laws exist. To protect the innocent. Sure he killed a man, but when he did, he was not in control of himself and was /is suffering from an illness that can be treated and that can let him live a normal life. The thing is, now that he is on treatment, he knows exactly what he did and is just as horrified as any of you are, and more so because he has to live with the FACT that he did it, it was not a dream, it was not a fantasy, it was real. Most of you really should read the whole article before you shoot off at the pie hole.

He is only allowed to be outside in a fenced area under supervision and not allowed to be at large with the public.
Mental illness is misunderstood. I DO NOT condone what Li did but caging him up in the dark is not the way to go.

"Today, a walk in the park; next year, at this time, perhaps a supervised stroll to the mall; the year following, an unsupervised visit to the local bus station, and on and on it goes in the interests of rehabilitating the unsound mind."


I love all these comments that are so sure that this man will be released in a year. All these comments that are complete and utter fantasy. Anybody who has one iota of interest in dealing with fact rather than ungrounded opinion will know that Mr Li will in all liklihood spend far more time in confinement than anybody who kills, not because of mental illness, but out of greed, or hatred or revenge. Mr Li will NOT be strolling the malls or the bus stations ever again.

They are NOT taking him for a stroll in the park today. They are simply taking him outside the building so he can get some sun and fresh air, and had you bothered to read the article, they are not doing it until they increase the security on the grounds. The ONLY reason Mr Li has not had these priveleges up until now, the exact same priveleges by the way that every scumbag murderer in the country from Paul Bernardo to Clifford Olsen get from their first day in prison, is because the prison he is in doesn't have a secure perimeter.

While there are hundreds of comments getting thousands of thumbs up that are dead certain Canada's penal system is so terribly broken, anyone who bothers to do a comparison with the rest of the world will realize in two minutes that our system works better than pretty near any country on the planet when it comes to crime rates and repeat offenders, and that it just keeps getting better every year. But by all means, focus on the exceptions rather than the norm. Facts just ruin the fun.

The amount of bigotry, hatred, and ignorance in most of these comments is breathtaking. It seems most of us still think it's okay to discriminate against and marginalize the mentally ill; I, for one, am sick to death of it. Try reading this pamphlet from the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, and then look back at your comments and see what you think about what you wrote.


I don't understand why people post such things as:

mountie: "Wonder if all the people that think Li is harmless as long as he takes his meds would be willing to have a nap next to the guy on a Greyhound Bus?"

Dirty Ernie: "Do you want this guy to be your neighbor? Do you want him living next to you, your kids, your wife, when he forgets to take his pills? He will be somebody's neighbor."

Tired of being taxed: " It will be a terrifying day when he's released in public and strolling our streets."

You see in all of the articles I have read regarding this case, not once has it said that Li will ever see the light of day. After all, someone with an illness which causes such severe outbreaks of violence will never be released from Selkirk. There is nothing wrong with allowing him supervised walks around the facility, since it will most likely be his home for the rest of his life.

Reading other comments saying that he should be held accountable for his actions, these commenters are clearly very ignorant in regards to mental illness. I personaly know someone with schizophrenia, and once they did have a mildly violent outburst toward someone before they recieved medication. The person they acted out against had no hard feelings afterwards as he realized during the occurance that this was not the same person. I unlike other ignorant posters can understand what it means to have such a mental illness.

I completely agree with you, although I am concerned he may be released at some point. It seems most people either lean to one extreme or the other, and both are very harmful. He cannot be held criminally responsible for his actions, and should be allowed supervised walks. However, he shouldn't be released ever, because he will always have that mental illness and he may become violent because of that mental illness. Not everyone with schizophrenia would do what he did. It's a very sad situation for all those involved. However, some people have this strange idea that schizophrenia can be cured, and therefore he should someday be allowed back into society. It can't, it can only be controlled, and even with medication it's not 100%. So although he should stay there forever, we have so many bleeding hearts running this country that may not be so. Bleeding hearts who also do not understand mental illness, only from the opposite point of view. They think that if he takes his meds he will magically be cured. It doesn't work that way, and although he should most definitely be allowed walks he should never be free. I have a very strong feeling he will one day be let free.

What's screwed up is that people would actually want someone to continue being sick. His mental illness was not being managed when he committed this act; yes he deserves to be held accountable, but he also deserves to be physically well. If someone had diabetes in prison should we not allow them to take their insulin? Mental health is a real issue, it's not something he was faking to get a lighter sentence. The victims family can rest assured that he will never be left alone ever again, which is prison in and of itself. What if it was your husband, son, brother, dad, uncle, friend- perspectives change.

If the family can't handle him walking outside they will never be free from what he did. They need to find forgiveness. This doesn't mean that they think it's right or that they don't miss their son. It means that they decide to stop dragging Li's actions around with them their entire lives and learn to live free. Tim doesn't have a choice of life or death. His family does.