Legislation proposing safer regime for accused persons found not criminally responsible because of mental disorder

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JUSTICE Minister and Attorney General of Canada Peter MacKay, Industry Minister James Moore and Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu announced on Monday the reinstatement of the Not Criminally Responsible Reform legislation, consistent with the commitment made in the recent Speech from the Throne.

The Act would ensure that public safety comes first in the decision-making process with respect to accused persons found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder (NCR). The proposed legislation would also enhance the safety of victims and promote greater victim involvement when they choose to be involved.

“The safety and well-being of Canadians is of paramount importance to our Government. The legislation reinstated today will put public safety first, protect Canadians from the most high-risk individuals, and enhance the rights of the victims,” said MacKay. “Through the creation of a new high-risk designation process, we will ensure that those accused who meet the NCR higher risk threshold are no longer a threat to their victims or Canadian communities.”

“Our Government is strongly committed to protecting the safety of Canadians while ensuring that victims have a greater voice in our justice system,” said Moore. “The safety of the general public and concern for the victims should be the most important considerations so that high-risk accused found not criminally responsible are not released into our communities.”

The Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, which addresses concerns raised by victims of crime as well as provinces and territories, has three main components:

* Putting Public Safety First – the legislation would explicitly set out that public safety is the paramount consideration in the decision-making process relating to accused persons found to be NCR.

* Creating a High-Risk Designation – the legislation would create a new designation to protect the public from high-risk NCR accused. Upon being designated by a court as high-risk, an NCR accused would be held in custody and would not be released by a review board until their designation was revoked by a court. The other consequences of being designated as a high-risk NCR accused would include a possible extension by the review board of the period between reviews (up to three years), unescorted passes could not be granted to such individuals, and escorted passes could only be granted in narrow circumstances and subject to sufficient safeguards to protect public safety.

* Enhancing Victims Rights – the legislation would enhance the safety of victims by ensuring that they are specifically considered when decisions are being made about accused persons found NCR, ensuring they are notified when an NCR accused is discharged and where they intend to reside, and allowing non-communication orders between an NCR accused and the victim.

“Victims want to be better informed and be more involved in the process,” said Boisvenu. “This Bill will help our Government fulfill our commitments under our plan for safe streets and communities, including standing up for victims and ensuring fair and efficient justice.”

The proposed reforms would not affect access to treatment for any NCR accused person.

Reinstatement of this legislation is consistent with the commitment in the Speech from the Throne 2013 to support victims of crime and protect our communities.