Monday, June 7, 2010
A baffling lapse in common sense
It defies imagination why a Manitoba provincial review board signed off on a treatment team recommendation to allow Vince Li supervised outdoor passes on a property with no security perimeter. Two years ago on a bus from Edmonton to Winnipeg, Li beheaded 22-year-old Tim McLean without the slightest provocation.
While the court found Li not criminally responsible due to untreated schizophrenia, he was sent to a locked forensic mental-health unit with the clear public understanding that he would be safely kept away from society for years to come. The notion that he and a couple of minders would be allowed to walk the grounds of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre -- which mysteriously lacks even a fence or barrier -- is beyond preposterous.
Fortunately, Manitoba Justice Minister Andrew Swan, who knows a hot-button issue when he sees one, instantly quashed the action. For starters, taxpayers certainly shouldn't be on the tab to hire extra supervisory staff, as was necessary.
Humane treatment of Li must be a given, and as in the cases of serial killers and terrorists, supervised outdoor exercise might be possible in a secure maximum security facility. But certainly that is the only instance. You reckon the Manitoba government will be taking special note of when the current review board positions expire.
We do not need a fence around Selkirk! It is not a prison yet we are turning it into one. The mentally ill are not criminals and deserve to be treated with more respect and dignity than prisoners. Allowing Li to have supervised walks outside, would not pose a risk to anybody. He is under medication and is in a completely different and improved mental state than he was two years ago. Li is not a criminal. He is mentally ill.