WATCH: Victoria judge is in the spotlight after he threatened to quit if a repeat offender didn’t get treatment for mental health issues. Advocates are praising him for highlighting the flaw in the court system. Isabelle Raghem reports.
A Victoria judge is gaining attention across the province, after he threatened to quit the bench if a repeat offender didn’t get proper treatment for his mental health issues Friday.
Judge Ernie Quantz ordered the man with schizophrenia be released Monday, and taken to treatment.
The Times Colonist reporting he said Friday, “He is going to be released at the courthouse, and if I don’t have the authority to do that, then I’m going to quit on Monday.”
The provincial judge did not step down Monday, but did release the offender on a bail order.
The condition of his release is he must be escorted to Royal Jubilee Hospital and get psychiatric assessment.
The Judge saying in court Monday, that additional time behind bars would be “incarcerating him for his mental illness.”
“He was obviously frustrated,” says Jordan Watt, the offender’s lawyer. “I think like we all are. This is a very important issue that needs to be canvassed and it’s the criminal law versus the mental health.”
Mental health advocates are calling the judge’s remarks ‘significant’.
“We have to start thinking very seriously about what were doing in the mental health system and people with substance use disorders if judges have to go to that length to ensure that somebody gets treatment,” says BC Recovery Council chair Marshall Smith.
A psychiatric report showed when the offender was on his medication he did well and stayed out of trouble.
The Canadian Mental Health Association says the case sheds light on a crack between the criminal system and health system.
“All too often people end up in jail or in the correction system, when they would have been much better served by the health system,” says Jonny Morris from the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
The group has launched a campaign called B4 Stage 4, to prevent cases like these.
“Arguably, jail is a stage four intervention when it comes to mental illness and addiction. There’s a lot more doors and opportunities before someone ends up in jail where we in the community can help that person on a journey to recovery,” adds Morris.
The judge has ordered an update on the offender and his hospital assessment, to be delivered in court Friday.