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 9, 2010

Selkirk Mental Health Facility to reveal security plan for Li's walks

THE Selkirk Mental Health Centre is working on a security plan that would allow Vince Li to stroll the centre's grounds, but a senior government official could not say Tuesday how soon it would be implemented.
Kim Sharman, an assistant deputy minister of health, said the government intends to take the measures "in short order," but couldn't be more specific than that.
"We are giving it our full attention and we are actively working on determining what the appropriate measures are. Then we'll be actively working on putting those measures in place," she said in an interview.
Sharman said the Selkirk centre has taken several steps over the past year to beef up security, including increasing staff, adding more surveillance cameras and introducing "new and tighter measures" at doorways.
She said the province has made it clear that further measures are required before it allows the centre to implement a Criminal Code Review Board ruling last week that would give Li two brief supervised outdoor passes a day.
Sharman refused to discuss the range of possible measures that are on the table, saying at one point: "If it's staffing, it takes time to staff. I can't be any more specific than that because we haven't determined yet what those appropriate measures are."
Li was found not criminally responsible last year for the 2008 beheading of 22-year-old Tim McLean on a Greyhound bus near Portage la Prairie. He admitted responsibility for the attack but a judge found him to be suffering from hallucinations and untreated schizophrenia at the time, which left him unable to appreciate or control his actions.
Li is already getting fresh air and limited exercise in a small courtyard attached to the centre's secure forensic unit.
"The review board decision recognizes that restricted privileges on the grounds are the next step in Mr. Li's recovery," another Health Department spokeswoman said in an email to the Free Press.
Justice Minister Andrew Swan said last week that Li would not receive supervised strolls outside of the centre's forensic unit "unless and until" unspecified new security measures were in place that satisfied the government. He was roundly criticized by mental health advocates for his stance.
Danah Bellehumeur, the Selkirk centre's chief executive officer, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
The review board's written decision is expected to be released as early as this week. The Crown, which strenuously opposed the supervised passes for Li, will then have 15 days to appeal the order to the Manitoba Court of Appeal, according to Li's lawyer, Alan Libman.
Swan said Monday that as Justice Minister he can't order the Crown to appeal the review board decision, but he reiterated that if it did, he would "support that decision completely."
Meanwhile, Sharman said the health centre is working on its security plan "on the assumption that the order stands."

There is no reason to deny Li the opportunity to have supervised walks outside. He is under medication and is a completely different mental state than he was 2 years ago and would not pose a risk to anybody. Swan had no right to overrule the Criminal Code review board's decision. 

Hopefully the general public realizes that not all untreated schizophrenics are capable of the horrors Mr. Lee apparently was. It is by actions such as his that people come to fear the mentally ill. Schizophrenia is an affliction you would not wish on your worst enemy but most schizophrenics are of more danger to themselves than others.
Schizophrenics deserve our sympathy and support with their ongoing struggles with this incurable disease that, by its nature, alienates them from others including family. Symptoms such as hearing voices that no one else makes it very difficult to relate to others. Some respond well to medications, have strong friend and family supports and are able to lead very normal productive lives. Others are not so lucky and possibly due to side effects of strong medications, degree of illness, life’s hardships and lack of community support and understanding are unable to maintain their mental health.
Generalized ignorant comments by those who do not understand this disease, and you do not unless you have actually loved or lived with someone with schizophrenia, only make their situation worse. 

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