From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Friday, December 14, 2012

Punishing the mentally ill

There has been much fuss kicked up over the release of Guy Turcotte who was found not criminally responsible in the killing of his two children due to mental illness, this furor is of course being egged on by the Harper government as part of their so called victim rights agenda.

"Isabelle Gaston does not deserve to live in fear of her children's killer and neither do other victims of similar crimes across Canada," Heritage Minister James Moore told a news conference Thursday.
"Isabelle Gaston deserves better than this. The system has failed her."
Moore repeated the government's plan for legislation to deal with high-risk offenders found not criminally responsible for their actions because of a mental disorder who may pose a threat to public safety if released.
The new law may require longer waits between formal reviews of the status of people held in psychiatric hospitals after being found not criminally responsible, he suggested.
"The planned legislation will ensure that public safety is paramount in determining how persons found not criminally responsible should be addressed by a mental health review board and courts."

Just what the hell this has to with Canadian heritage is beyond me ,but I digress. Back on topic. I have many issues with the way this is shaking out, firstly Turcotte was found to be mentally ill at the time through a process that is biased against such rulings. The bar for finding one not criminally responsible is a high one witness the exploding population of the mentally ill in our prisons.

What possible societal good can be derived from punishing him, he has been deemed well enough to released by mental health professionals and provided he is closely monitored that is good enough for me. Look, I understand the public's need to see someone punished for the killing of two young children but that in this case would be vengeance not justice.

Secondly, Making law based on a single case not only makes for bad laws it is also dangerous and reckless and can only lead to causing great harm to those in need of our help not a heaping dose of punishment and retribution. Laws should be based on science (ya I know) and the common good not because we may feel uncomfortable with the outcome of a single case.

UPDATE: This from  Martin Patriquin The inevitable politicization of Guy Turcotte

Related posts:
Canada's Shame: The Criminalization Of Mental Illness
Canada's largest mental health institutions: Prisons

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