Submitted. Conservative MPs across the country applauded an announcement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper of new legislation that will protect Canadians from high-risk accused persons found Not-Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder (NCR). High profile Not Criminally Responsible cases have included the horrific Allan Schoenborn and Vincent Li incidents which have concerned Canadians deeply.
“The Not-Criminally Responsible Reform Act announced today will make public safety paramount in considering the release of an accused person and will help ensure dangerous individuals will no longer pose a threat to their community,” said Strahl. “It will also protect the victims of their crimes from being traumatized again and again.”
The Not-Criminally Responsible Reform Act has three main components:
Putting Public Safety First – the legislation would explicitly set out that public safety is the paramount consideration in the decision-making process relating to accused persons found to be NCR.
· Creating a High-Risk Designation – the legislation would create a new designation to protect the public from high-risk NCR accused. Upon being designated by a court as high-risk, an NCR accused must be held in custody and cannot be considered for release by a review board until their designation is revoked by a court. The other consequences of being designated as a high-risk NCR accused include that their review periods could be extended to up to three years, such individuals would not be entitled to unescorted passes, and could only obtain an escorted pass in narrow circumstances and subject to sufficient conditions to protect public safety.
· Enhancing Victims’ Involvement – the legislation will enhance the safety of victims by ensuring that they are specifically considered when decisions are being made about accused persons found NCR; ensuring they are notified when an NCR accused is discharged; and allowing non-communications orders between an NCR accused and the victim.
Access to treatment for any NCR accused person would not be affected by the proposed reforms.
This legislation is part of the Conservative Government’s Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, which is one of four priorities identified at the beginning of the Parliamentarian session by the Prime Minister. It focuses on tackling crime, victims’ rights, and fair and efficient justice. The legislation builds on actions that have already been taken to further advance the interests of victims of crime. These actions include the creation of the Office of the Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, and the introduction of legislation to double the victims’ surcharge.