Re: “Justice reform is needed,” editorial, March 30.
Stephen Harper’s Conservative government manipulates public outrage about the legal process for those found not criminally responsible for crimes due to mental illness. His strategy demonizes the mentally ill and diverts victims’ families and public attention from examining the impact of insufficient mental-health funding to provide education, diagnosis and therapy.
Canada, like other progressive countries, has tried to identify and separate the mentally ill from criminals, but Harper will turn back the clock.
News headlines announce tragedies — mom with babe in arms jumps in front of a train, children killed by a parent and police officer killed. If there had been sufficient mental-health services to identify at-risk individuals and provide appropriate treatment, could these cases have been prevented? Evidence-based policy says yes.
Countries with integrated mental-health services not only address the illness but provide support services to families. Without professional programs, the de-institutionalization of the mentally ill has abandoned them to live in ghettos or the streets. With this neglect, is it a wonder we are experiencing tragic consequences?
I admire the mental-health professionals who continue to work to make the world a better place for their patients and the public, but they need funding. Wouldn’t it be better to focus on preventing suffering and possible death of innocents than punishing the mentally ill?
Shame on Stephen Harper’s “throwing away the key” solution. Surely the Canadian public has more compassion and intellect to address this challenge.
© Copyright 2013