Would You Have Vince Li For Dinner, As Long As He Was Taking His Meds?
Anybody who lives in Manitoba will undoubtably have heard about Vince Li, the man who killed another young man named Tim Maclean on a Greyhound bus 7 years ago. The killing was a random, gruesome act where the victim was beheaded and then eaten by the attacker for several hours before the ordeal was over.
Clearly, a person who does this is not in their right minds. Right? Li is a schizophrenic who had not taken his medication. The results were terrifying.
Because of his mental illness he was found criminally not responsible for his actions. He spent some time in a psychiatric facility and the entire time his treatment has been focused on helping him to re-enter society. He is currently living in a group home with very little supervision, with the hope that he can live more independently. His case is currently being reviewed to see if this is possible.
So, there are a lot of conflicting opinions about the whole thing. You can read a couple of them here and here. He has become somewhat of a poster boy for mental illness, and anyone who dares to question the safety of having this man in their community is deemed to be insensitive to mental illness.
You know, I gotta call bullshit here.
I don’t think that people having valid concerns about this man living independently is unreasonable at all.
Yes. He is taking is medication. But how do we know he will continue to do so? Is there someone who is going to administer it and make sure he takes it every single day? Will he have regular evaluations by a mental health care worker? Will he continue to have treatment once out in the community?
Let’s be real. He didn’t have a panic attack and crash his car. He boarded a bus and ate another man. A police officer on duty committed suicide after having to see that. This was a scary, violent and degrading act.
And do I think he needs to be punished? Not really. He was insane. How do you punish someone for doing something they had no control over? But I think about how he must feel knowing now what he did. How does that affect his mental health in other ways? Will the emotional consequences of his actions overcome him and make him a danger in other ways?
Will his medication always work?
So, if having these questions and concerns about Vince Li re-entering our community makes me an asshole so be it. Then I’m an asshole. But I wonder if the people who are in charge of his release would commit to having this man live in their homes, with their children? Is he really that safe? Because I think the public has a right to feel concerned or at the very least have all of their questions and concerns addressed.
And I am by no means an expert in the justice system, but since he was never convicted of anything, is there any court order in place to monitor his behaviour? Anything in place so that if he is found to be un-compliant with his treatment in any way he has his freedom removed?
Will the people of the community he is going to live in know that he is there?
I am not against rehabilitation of this man. But I think that there needs to be complete transparency regarding his release. People always fear the unknown. And I think that what the future holds for Vince Li is unknown.
As for the family of the victim? I can’t even imagine what they think. I would hope that they have received even one tenth of the support and treatment needed to get through the grieving process that Vince Li has. I hope that we have offered them the same amount of help that we have offered the man who killed their son.
Because they are serving a life sentence.