The Conservative government in my country is participating in a misguided exercise to get “tough on crime.” It’s easy to fashion votes on such a platform but morally wrong to do so at the expense of your most vulnerable citizens. The only people “tough on crime” policies don’t appeal to are usually behind bars or a step away. I can forgive a government that makes easy political points but I am offended that they think I care not for those affected. The individuals affected are not criminals; they are the severely mentally ill and the families connected to them. They are referred to as the “accused” because they are not found guilty despite public desire.
This government proposes to enhance public safety by prolonging the incarceration and detainment of those found and proven to be Not Criminally Responsible. At present these individuals come before a panel of legal, medical and public members to determine a course of action suitable to both the public and the accused on an annual basis. The Conservatives by a sure stroke of political gain would have us believe that every three years is better suited to all involved. The government is interested in victim rights or so they say. I am of the opinion that in casting a net for political votes they will in fact create more victims than they will serve.
Don’t ever assume the laws you find attractive and sensible for “others” will never land in your lap. Hopefully, you won’t find yourself the accused at a Review Board hearing but you will know what prayer is if you happen to be that persons mother. The Review Board process is an excruciating and slow process as it stands now. I understand and am sympathetic to the prayer involved in being a victim of a crime but are you a victim of someone who is or was part of the Forensic System or are you a victim of someone who was outside of the system? Retribution can taint treatment. This law will do little to protect us from anyone on the street; it will only prolong the process that we subject the accused to. It is like taking a double dose of Viagra. It only succeeds in screwing you indefinitely. Will you thank Stephen Harper when you leave the building knowing your child will remain for three more years?
I had 7 annual hearings for a crime that probably wouldn’t have fetched 6 months from someone found guilty. Would you sleep better at night if it was 21 years instead of seven? I have conscience enough to find that fact alarming even outside of personal reasons.
It is easy to be indignant of another’s sins!
I know of a case where the accused stole a bag of chips. It is a fallacy perpetrated and perpetuated by the media that Not Criminally Responsible individuals are all murderers. It is also a fallacy that these individuals receive shorter sentences than those faced by the criminally sane. (Please read “Not Criminally Responsible: The Burden of Accusation and Popular Misconceptions” in my blog) I stand far outside of these fallacies and I am not an anomaly.
We need to listen to victims and their families but we need to remember the same brush with fate that delivered them to their suffering could have easily delivered them or a loved one to the confines of a Forensic Psychiatric facility. If you disagree please point me to the clinic that inoculates me against mental illness. This government agenda shows clearly that they care not about those afflicted with mental illness but more telling is the insinuation that the laws they impose will have no effect on themselves or those they care about. We are no more immune to being a victim than we are of being the accused. Those found Not Criminally Responsible received the same lessons in school. Their parents transferred the same morality and sense of right and wrong. For an array of reasons many of which are outside anyone’s control they became mentally ill. It is alarming to think we can improve society by increasing the segregation of the mentally ill.
We have a senator whose daughter was murdered. I am saddened by this but it is unfortunate the politicians whose lives are touched by mental illness are not as vocal. Let’s not forget the many moans of anguish amongst the shrieks of atrocity.
Any two bit politician can make a law that affects hundreds to appease millions but it takes a man to make a just decision.
I volunteered at a courtesy meal provided by one of the churches in our city. It was my first time and I consider myself an observer only. The saints are those who show up every time.
My job was pre-scrubbing the plates, glasses and cutlery for the dish washing crew. Jell-O was part of the menu so it wasn’t long before my soapy water was pink. The odd floating pea was of no concern but part way through the evening I was curious as to what percentage my rinse water was saliva.
Before I was inundated with 150 plates, knives, cups and dessert plates I was watching the first to be served. Many seemed to have a system. This was not a first for many if any. Their plates were placed at their table to ensure a seat. The food was quickly abandoned as they headed for the tables containing loaves of bread. The more seasoned could be seen feeling the bags checking for the largest loaves. It is bad enough that there are those among us in need of a meal today but to pre-worry about what might fill your stomach tomorrow is insult to injury.
We ran out of purple grape juice and it was substituted with the more expensive clear grape juice. It was a hard sell. What appeared to be water was passed by or sniffed with suspicion. Most refused the risk of filling their stomachs with anything less than calories.
There were more than a few who handed in their plates with the only thing on their mind being another. “Are there seconds?” “Please Sir Can I Have Some More?” It’s only gluttony when it’s not your only meal. God Bless those with an appetite and Peace Be Upon the hungry.
One of the guests was an accomplished pianist. It was a welcome spirit and easily worth scrapping plates and scrubbing utensils. I knew my place was in dishwater and not at the piano.
To be honest I worked hard but to be more honest I do not have it hard. I know where I will sleep. I barely think about the three meals that come my way and I am seldom with a plan for tomorrow’s calories. My fridge is rarely near a state of empty. Hell, I have a fridge – have you ever considered the disparity between not having something to eat and owning a $700.00 box to house an array of food?
I saw several plates with a fair bit of food scraped into the garbage but who says just because you are poor you have to like peas? I was happy to know there were people not desperate enough to accept everything dished out to them. I hope I can always retain my dignity and taste.