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.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Criminal Code review board`s decision should be trusted and upheld for Vincent Li!

Never thought I’d say it, but thank goodness for Andrew Swan.
The justice minister, a frequent source of derision in this space for various craptacular decisions the past eight or nine months, came to the rescue of common sense the other day, sparing us from a world in which schizophrenic killer Vince Li can go on escorted walkabouts on the grounds of the mental hospital in Selkirk.
Well, at least for the moment, anyway.
Swan thwarted a Criminal Code Review Board decision that would have allowed Li, who was found not criminally responsible for beheading Tim McLean aboard a Greyhound bus near Portage la Prairie barely 22 months ago, to take short daily walks on the hospital’s unfenced grounds in the company of at least two staff members.
It all sounds innocent enough, except it’s generally believed to be the first step on Li’s road to freedom — something few in these parts want to see happen anytime soon, given how gruesome a crime scene Li left behind.
Swan recognized that fact and reacted swiftly, ordering hospital staff to keep Li locked up until security at the facility is upgraded — fences, anyone? — while promising to support the Crown if they opt to appeal the board’s ruling.
For this, Andrew Swan — yes, Andrew Swan — should be hailed a hero.
As for the members of the Criminal Code Review Board? Not so much.
I know the board’s mandate is to consider the plights of patients like Li. And I realize mental health is a tricky issue the public remains relatively uneducated about.
I get that.
But given the worldwide notoriety this case received, how can these board members fail to understand how outraged the public would be by the thought of Li tasting any fleeting moment of freedom so soon?
How can they not understand their decision would only further undermine the credibility of the legal system, which — in case anyone hasn’t noticed — has already fallen to the levels of radio DJs who claim to have seen Gary Bettman breaking bread at the downtown Moxie’s.
More importantly, as is often the case these days, how can they completely disrespect and disregard the victims of this mess with such a decision?
Li may not have been convicted of murder, but his insane actions have left an indelible scar on the McLean family, not to mention the unfortunate people who witnessed the killing. There appears to be little in the way of recognition of this fact.
These types of things almost certainly weren’t considered by the board, but obviously should be. As a result, we’re left in a bizarro world where I’m congratulating Andrew Swan for attempting to blunt their efforts.
These are scary times we’re living in, folks.

Swan had no right to overrule the review board, comprised of experts who are educated about mental illness! Li is on medications and is in a completely different and improved mental state than he was 2 years and allowing him the right to walk outside, supervised, would not pose a risk to anybody! I do not think he will escape, being supervised by two armed staff members! Li is not a criminal and should not be treated worse than a prisoner. He should not be denied the basic human right of sunshine and fresh air. That is inhumane and uncivilized and there is no purpose. I agree, what Li did to McLean was horrific and gruesome.. but we need to move past the details of the murder and focus on Li`s treatment. The review board is instructed to consider public safety in their decision and clearly, they decided that Li would pose a minimal risk to the public, which prompted them to allow hi to have supervised walks. Their decision was just and humane and they should be trusted to make the appropriate decision regarding Li`s treatment. 

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