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.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Man who beheaded fellow bus passenger, wins the right to supervised walks on hospital grounds

The man who dismembered a fellow Greyhound passenger less than two years ago will soon be free to roam outdoors.
In a decision that Manitoba’s Attorney General called “contrary to the interests of public safety,” the independent Criminal Review Board of Manitoba has granted Vince Li permission to leave his locked forensic ward and walk the grounds of the Selkirk Medical Health Centre for up to one hour.
The decision jolted both the family of Mr. Li’s young victim, Tim McLean, and the provincial government.
Justice Minister and Attorney General Andrew Swan said in a press conference that he staunchly opposed Mr. Li’s escorted walks and has written his federal counterpoint to make the point.
“We believe that this decision taken just two years after the crime will shock the conscience of all Manitobans and indeed Canadians,” he said. “In our view this order is contrary to the interests of public safety and seriously undermines public confidence in the Canadian system of justice.”
Mr. Swan added that outdoor security at the Selkirk institution is inadequate to protect the surrounding town, roughly 35 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, from the 41-year-old former Wal-Mart worker.
“Mr. Li will not be leaving the locked forensic unit in which he resides for any time unless and until there are additional security measures in place,” Mr. Swan said. He could not elaborate on what those security measures would be. “
But that assurance was cold comfort to Carol DeDelley, mother of Mr. McLean.
“When you do what he did, you should be locked up for the rest of your natural life, period,” Carol DeDelley said from her home in Elie, Man.
“My son's human rights were violated in the most horrific manner, and that's completely disregarded and forgotten, and they're all concerned about Mr. Li's human rights.”
Last year, Mr. Li was found not criminally responsible for killing Mr. McLean due to severe undiagnosed mental illness.
According to psychiatrists who testified at trial, Mr. Li believed he was acting on God’s orders when he stabbed, dismembered and decapitated Mr. McLean, a 22-year-old carnival worker quietly riding the bus from Edmonton to Winnipeg.
Horrified passengers fled the bus and then locked Mr. Li inside, ensuring he could not escape before police arrived.
Earlier this week, Mr. Li's psychiatrist told the review board that Mr. Li’s mental condition was improving and should be allowed short walks outside on the hospital grounds.
The idea has stirred up controversy because the hospital grounds are not fenced in. Manitoba's Opposition Progressive Conservatives want Mr. Li shipped out of the province to a more secure hospital.
The review board order states that Mr. Li's walks will be only 15 minutes long, twice a day at the beginning, gradually increasing to two one-hour long walks. At all times, he is to be accompanied by two staff members — one more than the standard in such cases — who will be equipped with cell phones or two-way radio.
Ms. DeDelley feels people are more concerned with Mr. Li than with her family and other people affected by Mr. Li's crime, including other passengers.
“I would like to be doing a job and enjoying my life again but we haven't had one iota of closure. Each year, Mr. Li is going to begin to receive more and more freedoms, more and more of a life back. And I don't think that he should.”
But a schizophrenia support group said allowing Mr. Li sunshine and fresh air is both humane and an important part of his treatment.
“The people who take exception to it, unfortunately, have bought into the myth ... about mental illness that pervades our society. They think the person can't get better,” Chris Summerville, the group's executive director, said.
“The science is very clear. (Li) can learn to manage his illness.”

Manitoba's main opposition party is calling on the government to keep Vince Li behind a fence at all times.
Mr. Li was found not criminally responsible for beheading a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in 2008.
He has been held inside a secure wing of a mental hospital in Selkirk, but his psychiatrist is recommending Mr. Li be allowed short, supervised walks on hospital grounds.
Progressive Conservative Leader Hugh McFadyen says that's unacceptable, because the area is not fenced in.
He wants the government to send Mr. Li to a fenced-in hospital in another province.
Attorney General Andrew Swan rejects that idea, saying it's up to the Manitoba Review Board — an independent body guided by the federal Criminal Code — to decide.

"Significant risk to society"

Li has a human right to be allowed walks outside for fresh air and sunshine. His actions towards McLean were unintentional and out of Li`s control. He should not be further punished or deprived for an act which he had no control over. To deny him this basic human right would be inhumane and uncivilized. This man is in a completely different and improved mental state than when he murdered McLean. He is essentially, a different person and a much less dangerous person. Allowing him to go outside, will not present a risk to anybody. He will be closely supervised at all times. I do not see the problem. The mentally ill need to be treated with respect and dignity at all times, to help improve their mental condition. Depriving somebody of sunshine and from going outside, can lead to the worsening of your mental state as depression is more likely. 

Politicians are using individual cases such as this one, to score points. The doctors and review board members are trained, educated and knowledgeable, and they know what they are doing. If they felt Li presented a risk to the public, they would not allow these walks. They are making the right decision by allowing hi to go outside. 

There would be no reason, other than revenge and vengeance, to deny Li the right to go outside. Vengeance is not justice. Justice means treating people who are mentally ill with fairness equanimity.  


  1. The guy isn't responsible for his actions any more than a rabid dog or raccoon is responsible. This isn't a human being we are discussing here, just a rabid dog-he should be put out of his misery.

  2. I am disgusted and disturbed by your comment. I cannot believe Canadians are so barbaric and uncivilized in their wishes! The majority of the public, including you, are completely misinformed and ignorant regarding mental illness! Vincent Li is a human being who suffers from a severe mental disorder. He is a victim of his disorder. He should not be further punished and deprived of rights, for actions which were completely out of his control. He did not choose to have a mental disorder and his actions were not intentional. They were involuntary and unconscious. Li was not mentally present at the time of the killing. I understand your wish to assign blame for this horrific and gruesome crime, but the only thing we can blame in this case, is schizophrenia. You cannot blame Li, for actions which he had no control over. Li deserves to be treated in a humane manner and with respect and dignity, just like anybody else who has a mental disorder. The death penalty should be abolished worldwide. It is barbaric, uncivilized and inhumane. The government killing murderers, does not demonstrate to society that murder is wrong. State sanctioned executions, are pre-meditated murders. Plus, we as a society, should not be willing to take the risk of executing an innocent individual. Remember Steven Truscott!

    I hope you educate yourself about mental illnesses and inform yourself before you comment on my blog. I am truly disgusted by your comment.