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.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Doctors recommend Vince Li be given supervised passes on hospital grounds

Vince Li has taken a significant step toward regaining his freedom and returning to the community -- less than two years after the mentally ill man randomly stabbed, beheaded and dismembered a sleeping passenger on a Greyhound bus.
Dr. Steven Kraemer told a provincial review board Monday Li is ready to start receiving supervised passes that let him out of his locked ward at the Selkirk Mental Health Centre. He said Li's treatment team endorses the idea of letting him out for fresh air and recreation 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 would 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.
"We're taking a very cautious approach. We have no way of knowing how he will respond," said Kraemer.
"I believe it's time to gather some evidence about his ability in the community," added his lawyer, Gordon Bates.
Family and friends of Li's victim, Tim McLean, filled the Winnipeg courtroom and said they are opposed to giving Li any outdoor time. They say the risk of something going wrong is too high.
"I was shocked the whole facility isn't surrounded by a fence," said McLean's mother, Carol de Delley. "I don't think he should have any freedom. Treat him humanely, but in a locked facility for the rest of his life."
Crown attorney Corrine Deegan told the review board it's far too early to be giving Li any privileges.
"These supervised ground permits are not appropriate," she argued. "The fact they are requesting that (extra) level of security is evidence of concern."
The review board is expected to give a written decision about Li's immediate future later this week.
Li was found not criminally responsible last year for the 2008 killing and beheading of McLean, 22, on board a Greyhound Bus near Portage la Prairie. He admitted responsibility for the unprovoked attack but was found by a judge to be suffering from untreated schizophrenia and psychotic delusions at the time, which included hearing commands from God ordering him to kill McLean, whom he apparently viewed as a demon.
The verdict spared him a criminal record and prison term and put him under the control of the review board, which meets annually to decide what type of care and supervision he should receive. There is no minimum period for which a patient must remain in treatment.
Li sat quietly during Monday's hour-long hearing, surrounded by several sheriff's officers. He wore a grey pinstripe suit and white runners, which were pulled together tightly by leg shackles.
Kraemer said Monday Li has made "significant" progress since he last appeared in June 2009. He said Li has responded well to medication, listens well to staff and has attended all required programming and treatment. Li has developed a better understanding about the impact of his crime and only "occasionally" suffers from the hallucinations that once haunted him.
Kraemer said Li has been deemed a low risk to try and flee the facility. He has also stayed in frequent contact with his wife, who lives in Edmonton, and other family back in China.
"We don't believe at this point in time he poses an imminent risk," he said. Li is also functioning well with other high-risk patients at Selkirk and has not been subjected to any threats, said Kraemer.

The previous headline of this story, before it was changed, was "Killer may soon taste freedom" which was completely biased. He is not being freed, he is going outside for sunshine and fresh air. This headline was completely misleading. And also, Li is not a criminal or a killer by law. He was found not criminally responsible. He should be able to receive basic human rights and not be treated worse than a prisoner. Li will not "taste freedom". We are talking about 30 minutes a day of sunshine, a basic human right which he should have received from the beginning of his treatment. This is not freedom. The previous headline was sensationalized and irresponsible, reactionary and slanted. Li was found not criminally responsible so to treat him as a criminal, is against his rights. The word "passes" makes it appear as if Li will be allowed to be in the community, which is not true. He would only be allowed in the facility courtyard with supervision. He would not pose any danger to the public. Being supervised does not constitute freedom. The Free Press writes these types of articles to outrage the uninformed. Being allowed outside should be a basic right and is not newsworthy. If patients cooperate and participate in treatment, they are granted supervised passes on hospital grounds, which can lead to longer passes and eventually, unsupervised passes.   

The lack of knowledge and understanding towards mental health, especially schizophrenia is absolutely frightening.

Are we living in ancient times here? It sounds like a lot of you want to use some of the more barbaric methods used in the past to treat Li. No daylight at all? Not even a 15 minute walk!? Maybe we should just try some shock treatment? Start removing parts of his brain perhaps?

Yes, what he did was horrifying, but he was clearly suffering from a completely out of control schizophrenic episode. That means he literally had no control over his actions, which is why he was found not criminally responsible.

Get the man, as well as Tim's family the treatment they need for them to move on with their lives in a positive way. While we're at it, get some treatment for the people who honestly believe that we should be torturing a mentally ill human being. 

It would be inhumane to deny Li the basic right of sunshine and fresh air for 30 minutes a day. Even prisoners convicted of a crime receive those rights and Li is not a criminal as he was found not criminally responsible. 

I know he murdered an innocent person, but he has been diagnosed with a severe mental disorder which limits his ability to know right from wrong. Its not entirely his fault and we should have some compassion.

What if you couldn`t control you actions or had vivid thoughts/visions that made you act inappropriately?

Execution is not how a civilised country treats mentally ill criminals.

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