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Mental Health Taskforce recommends inmates deemed unfit to plead be moved to psychiatric facility

Justice Georgiana Fraser, Chairperson of the Mental Health Taskforce
 
The Mental Health Taskforce set up by Chief Justice Bryan Sykes to examine issues surrounding incarcerated persons deemed unfit to plead has recommended that they be removed to a psychiatric facility.
 
This is among the seven recommendations released Thursday from the 11-member taskforce.
 
The only designated psychiatric facility remains by law, the Bellevue Hospital.
 
The taskforce has chastised successive ministers of health for failing to designate another psychiatric facility to house mentally disordered defendants.
 
Justice Georgiana Fraser, Chairperson of the Mental Health Taskforce, presented the recommendations at Thursday's media briefing. 
 
The taskforce also wants the legal test for determining if a person is unfit to plead to be reformulated by statute to focus on the decision making capacity rather than the intellectual ability of mentally disordered defendants.
 
Additionally, the Mental Health Taskforce has recommended amendments to the Disabilities Act and the Evidence Act to accommodate mentally impaired defendants.
 
It said this will ensure effective participation in criminal proceedings. 
 
The taskforce suggested a support person, note-taking, lip reading or reading from notes in order to understand and follow the course of proceedings.
 
It has also called for urgent statutory provisions for mentally disordered children who are in conflict with the law.
 
The court's jurisdiction is currently based on the Childcare and Protection Act.
 
 


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