A proposal by the Conservative government to lock up mentally ill offenders and throw away the key is unlikely to make our communities safer despite all the rhetoric about public safety.
The bill is just the latest in the Harper government's 'tough on crime' policies, which have seen the feds busy fighting a crime wave visible only to Conservative politicians.
In the latest target, Ottawa would have us believe mentally-ill killers are quickly being given passes to run riot on the streets.
The bill creates a new category of "high-risk" offenders whose cases won't be reviewed until at least three years have passed. Missing from that announcement is the fact that most seriously ill offenders wouldn't be getting out of their institutions before that time anyway. Most people spend longer locked up in a forensic hospital than they do in jail.
Psychotic killings are horrifying, rare and impact the public psyche out of all proportion to their actual frequency. They are exactly the sort of example public policy should not be based upon.
The new bill is likely to perpetuate fear and stigma around mental illness but does little to address real problems. What's really needed is help for the mentally ill prior to an episode that results in violence. In far too many cases, families have been seeking help for years but not receiving it.
Money for social programs and medical help for the mentally ill - including adequate followup - is what is needed, not crime laws that stigmatize those in the grip of medical crises.