From Judge Gregory Koturbush, Penticton provincial court
“Across the criminal justice spectrum, there is a clear and strong consensus that something has gone painfully awry and that we have lost our way,” said Koturbash.
“Canadian jails, and B.C. is no exception, have become mental health facilities — a role for which they are ill equipped,” Koturbash said, adding the mental health system is “stretched to its limits” with psychiatric beds a “precious commodity.”
The judge pointed to B.C.’s move of deinstitutionalization decades back, that saw psychiatric institutions like Riverview closed in favour of community-based supports. He said the mental health services that were supposed to be created in the wake of deinstitutionalization “never seemed to materialize to the extent that they should have.”
“Prisons were not designed to treat the mentally ill, this is what hospitals and psychiatric wards are for,” Koturbash said.
“With the closure of psychiatric hospitals and reduction of bed space for the mentally ill, the correctional system has become the institution of last resort.”
From Superintendent Ted De Jager RCMP
“”To go out, as a community, and say that we are going to target the people that have absolutely nothing left, nothing left to lose, is a pretty startling indictment against our beautiful city,” said De Jager.
“Vigilante comments toward the more vulnerable or street-entrenched population…I don’t know what more you can take away from people that have everything in their life taken away already.”
Both quotes from Castanet articles published Thursday