Lock ‘Em Up

Alberta’s proposed mental health act changes may hand police one heck of a Christmas present: confinement conditions that could also make it the toughest anti-pedophile law in Canada.

But civil liberties advocates say that the changes are so broadly worded they could also lead to people being indefinitely confined for conditions as publicly harmless as anxiety and depression.

Lawyers for Alberta Health confirmed yesterday that the new law, which is expected to pass this fall, could be used to confine any person with a recognized mental health condition indefinitely.

That’s assuming two doctors studying the patient in question issue letters indicating they believe the person, once released, is a threat to themselves or others or is refusing treatment.

Under the standard definitions for psychiatric conditions, as defined by the American Psychiatric Association -which help make up the definitions used in Canada – that would include pedophilia.

Police say that given their years of fighting defence lawyers over whether pedophiles are principally criminals or incredibly sick – and given their high rates of reoffending and the belief that pedophilia is incurable – indefinite confinement is the way to go.

“As far as curing pedophilia, I’m not saying it could never be the case,” said Staff Sgt. Todd Laycock, of the Edmonton police ZEBRA child protection unit.

“But I see a value in a provision that allows the medical community to make an assessment and, if they are an ongoing danger to the public, keep them under treatment until cured.”

A particular provision of the changes, which await third reading and assent in the fall, is the suggestion that confinement could be ordered on the basis of a patient refusing treatment, along with being an ongoing danger to the public.

That includes some of the pedophiles police have dealt with, said Layock.

“We see the whole gamut, from those who offend once and feel awful, and would do anything to turn back the clock, to those at the other end of the spectrum who feel they have done nothing wrong.

Jeremy Loome

Published in: on October 17, 2007 at 4:30 pm  Leave a Comment  

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