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 2, 2010

Never free psycho killer? Apparently Tom Brodbeck knows nothing about mental illnesses!

There are three good reasons why psycho-killer Vince Li should never be released from a secure facility.
Li, who killed and dismembered Tim McLean in 2008 on a Greyhound bus, suffers from severe psychotic episodes.
He is dangerous, has refused treatment in the past and he even denied certain aspects of his offences when he went before the courts last year.
Today, even with heavy medication, Li is still afflicted with occasional hallucinations.
Doctors treating him want the Criminal Code review board — which meets once a year to decide Li’s fate — to give Li his first step towards freedom.
They want the review board to grant Li supervised passes outside of the ward.
If the board agrees, I suspect these same doctors will come back next year and request supervised day passes for Li, followed by unsupervised ones and ultimately, the freedom to walk the streets again.
The doctors will assure us Li is stable, co-operative and no longer has psychotic episodes due to the medication he is on. He won’t be cured. He can never be cured. But with the right medication and ongoing therapy, Li will be able to function again in society, the doctors will submit.
There are a few problems with that position. Firstly, a person with Li’s mental problems will always rely on medication to prevent him from doing bad things.
Which means if Li is ever released, the public would have to live with the risk that one day he may not take his meds. The doctors would assure us there are provisions in place to ensure people like Li always take their meds. They would ask us to trust them that the state would faithfully carry out that duty in perpetuity.
Given the severity of Li’s crime and the seriousness of his psychosis, that’s simply not a risk the public should have to take.
The second reason Li should never be released is because it would bring the administration of justice into disrepute. The law allows the courts to find people not criminally responsible for their actions if they were not of sound mind when they committed a crime.
Instead of sending them to jail, we send them to a mental health facility for treatment. Fair enough.
By the same token, in order to maintain confidence in the criminal justice system, a crime of this nature still has to be denounced.
And denunciation for a crime as severe as this one means the offender should never walk the streets again.
The law often talks about the need to preserve public confidence in the justice system by ensuring its application does not fall into disrepute.
Releasing Li at any time would severely erode the public’s confidence in the justice system and bring it into serious disrepute.
Finally, the third reason Li should never be released is to ensure Tim McLean’s family is not further victimized.
The family has been subjected to intolerable pain and anguish, the kind none of us could ever imagine.
On top of that, the justice system has treated them with disdain. They were refused standing at last year’s review board hearing and their victim impact statements were gutted by justice officials in court because they didn’t meet the criteria.
The fact we have a justice system that would contemplate putting them through even more pain and anguish by releasing Li is heinous and inhumane.
The Criminal Code review board better think long and hard about how much freedom they’re prepared to give to Vince Li.
Their decisions could have incalculable consequences.

The problem with this article is that Brodbeck only focused on the negative aspects of Li being released. Reality check Brodbeck! The doctors are not proposing that Li be released! All they want is for him to have supervised passes outside for sunshine and fresh air. I do not think that poses a risk to anybody, and it is a basic human right. If denied, we are treating the mentally ill inhumanely and in uncivilized ways. Li is as a victim as McLean was. McLean, was a victim of the crime, but Li was a victim of his severe mental disorder. Both were victimized by something which was out of their control. I am disgusted by the comments of the public who are completely ignorant and misinformed about mental illnesses. They advocate for execution, imprisonment and even deportation of the mentally ill. What is this.. the dark ages! In civilized societies, we treat the mentally ill with dignity and respect and treat them in a humane manner. 


  1. A violent offender who was housed at Selkirk was sent out on day passes with a highly unqualified and newly hired employee of the facility, with whom he'd had an affair. As well, other violent offenders out of Selkirk on supervised hospital visits have escaped. Selkirk hasn't inspired confidence in Manitobans. As well, while I understand that Li wasn't responsible for his actions while he was suffering from delusions, his choice to not take his meds is very troubling. This choice eventually led to an indescribable horror. It's natural that people would be fearful of circumstances coming together to allow him to skip his meds and become violent again. Once again, Manitobans haven't been given reason in recent years to trust that Selkirk will uphold whatever responsibilities it may have to ensure he stays on his meds, if eventually released. As far as I'm concerned, if he stopped taking his meds again, after all this happened and he recognized the results of his poor choices, he should be held criminally responsible. And I say this as someone who suffers from mental illness (and takes meds, without fail).

  2. Two words: Robert Chaulk

  3. Yes others have escaped, but that doesn`t mean we have the right to deny Li his human rights. You are only focusing on the very few who have escaped and not the majority who haven`t. He will be supervised by two guards. It would be virtually impossible for him to escape. I am not saying he should be released right now, maybe eventually, but he does deserve to have sunshine and fresh air.

    Yes, I know who the case of Robert Chaulk.