Wednesday, March 04, 2009

There's A Difference Between Justice and Revenge

I don't think there was ever a lot of doubt that Vince Li was clinically insane when he stabbed Tim McLean to death.

While I sympathize with the McLean family's expressed grief and outrage, I do take considerable exception to this statement from Ms. deDelley:

“My concern is protecting everybody else from people like this,” said Carol deDelley, Mr. McLean's mother, who has been pushing for a new law that would prevent anyone designated NCR from being released. “For Mr. Li's safety, he needs to be in a locked treatment facility. For me, I don't care if it's in a penitentiary or a treatment facility.”

The odds of Mr. Li getting out any time soon is practically nil. This appears to be one of the rare cases where there is little dispute about his mental state, and what is necessary to treat that condition. (at least to the best of our limited abilities) Mr. Li is apt as not to be locked up in a psychiatric facility for the rest of his life - schizophrenia, especially when it results in violence, is exceptionally difficult to treat, and the odds of any treatment being declared "successful" are pretty slim. Ms. deDelley is asking for revenge, not justice.

The sad thing here is that there are two victims in this horrific crime - Mr. McLean, and Mr. Li. We should not lose sight of the tragedy that either of these people represent.


Stephanie said...

There has been a lot of hysteria surrounding this incident. One side effect that I found rather ridiculous in the aftermath of the murder was the loud demands for tight security on Greyhound buses.

Out the hundreds of millions of passenger miles travelled on Greyhound every year, one person get murdered and suddenly people act like terrorists are going to hijack buses and drive them into skyscrapers. Forcing passengers to go through metal detectors is impractical since buses serve so many rural communities and countless side-of the-highway pickup points that they would be cost prohibitive. Also, this isn't something that is potentially unique on Greyhound: the same kind of killing could have happened on any city bus or any city street for that matter.

Even the half measure Greyhound instituted of not allowing carry-on luggage is a pointless and unnecessary inconvenience to travellers. You don't need a backpack to carry a knife.

As to Vince Li, if he were convicted and sent to jail, he would be out on parole in less than 15 years, much sooner than he will ever get out of the hospital. Is that what they really want?

MgS said...

The length of time that Mr. Li would be kept under lock and key is dependent upon how well he responds to treatment.

It might be a couple of years, it might be a couple of decades - depending on how readily his symptoms are managed by the current cocktails of psychoactive drugs they use to treat schizophrenia.

The sad thing is that the people screaming for blood right now don't realize that Mr. Li will struggle with his condition for the rest of his life.