Justice Minister Rob Nicholson

As Canadians we choose to live in a compassionate and civilized society…until you enter Parliament. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson states that he wants to ensure the public is protected from people who pose a danger to society. Does he think Review Boards are giving out passes to amusement parks? The Review Board has to answer to the public and I can assure you they will never suspend treatment and supervision where public safety is an issue.

I don’t have an issue with public safety but to disregard the mental condition of the accused and their reintegration into society flies in the face of what the designation of Not Criminally Responsible means. These individuals have for well over a century been treated differently. They are neither convicted nor acquitted. Mental illness is the culprit. It is tied to a physical form but that in no way makes the individual any more responsible. You can’t punish a mental illness but you can treat it. Treatment is the only compassionate and civilized response.

Mr. Nicholson states that Bill C54 reforms will not affect access to treatment and they do not pose penal consequences. Perhaps Mr. Nicholson would volunteer a loved one to his amendments. No harm so obviously no foul. Mr. Nicholson; I have been exposed to treatment and it does and must include cautious reintegration into society. It must not be influenced by what your ideals lead you to believe as just or what a victim might consider as appropriate.

To deny the accused access to anything beyond institution walls is in no way rehabilitative. It is clear you have made your decision to support victim’s sense of justice over rehabilitation. Individuals who are a risk in any way do not have the privilege of community access. Fortunately, this is reconsidered on an annual basis as people do respond to treatment. Your three year sentence is discriminatory, punitive and in no way serves the public or the accused. You can state that three years without review is not punitive and does not interfere with treatment but I would rather hear from someone with knowledge regarding rehabilitation and psychiatry. Alas, it is this voice you would rather not hear which is illustrated by your oversight of their input with regards to this matter.

When this Bill passes will Mr. Nicholson stand up in Parliament and explain why individuals with severe mental health problems are finding their way into prisons rather than treatment facilities? The Forensic system was the best worst thing to happen to me. Had I been exposed to the criminal system instead I would be without the supports I now have and I would not be in possession of the mental health I now have. With Bill C54 people will find legal avenues that provide the shorter route to freedom and treatment will be less of a legal alternative.

Someone will end up on a Greyhound bus again and it will be on your misguided head. If it is victims you are most interested in as your consultation suggests, it will be victims you will be confronted with. They will not have statements for the accused they will have statements for the Conservative government who in their short-sightedness pursued a simplistic ideology. It is easy to see a perpetrator and victim but an effort needs to be made to separate the crime from the ill person.

Mr. Nicholson wants the needs of victims to receive appropriate emphasis. Kudos to you but it needs to be recognized that these victims are in fact peripheral victims of a mental illness. If I am incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of the act and of knowing that such act was wrong how am I capable of appreciating my actions with regards to victims? I would not have committed the crime were it not for my mental illness so it can be assumed at the time of my offence I was incapable of appreciating any impact I may make on a victim. Most NCR individuals do live with guilt and regret. Most regain their sanity. Let’s leave it at that.

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