MP welcomes Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act
Proposed changes to laws governing people found not criminally responsible of committing serious offences, including murder, is being welcomed by Kamloops' MP.
"It is a really important piece of legislation on public safety," said Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo Conservative MP Cathy McLeod of the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act — legislation welcomed by B.C. Attorney General Shirley Bond.
Among the crimes that prompted the federal government's action was the case of Darcie Clarke of Merritt, whose three children were murdered in April 2008 by her former husband, Allan Schoenborn.
The courts found Schoenborn not criminally responsible, which put him into a system in which he could be given access to the outside world without Clarke or any other person affected by the murders being advised of the decision.
McLeod said that's an important part of the proposal that is not getting as much attention as the creation of a new high-risk category for those deemed not criminally responsible, a designation that will see their opportunity for a review of their case changed from annually to every three years.
McLeod noted the existing law led to the possible release of Schoenborn in 2011 on day passes in the same community where Clarke lived — Port Coquitlam.
Schoenborn's pass allowance was later revoked after a public uproar.
McLeod said the need to advise family of any impending release under any conditions is also a valuable change that will avoid putting people already affected by a crime from being revictimized.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper chose Burnaby to announce the new legislation, a city not far from where Schoenborn is scheduled to attend a hearing this week to determine if he should be allowed out of the psychiatric hospital where he is not detained for any set time.
Harper also met with Clarke to talk about the changes.
Bond issued a statement thanking the federal government for safeguarding families that have been affected by horrific crimes and expressed a hope the new law will be in place soon.
McLeod couldn't speculate on a timeline, noting the legislation must first be debated in the House of Commons.