Government of Canada introduces the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the introduction of the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, which addresses concerns raised by victims of crime with respect to accused persons found Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder.  The legislation is a key part of the Government’s plan for safe streets and communities.

“Our Government is committed to making Canadian streets and communities safer,” said the Prime Minister. “The new legislation introduced today focuses on victims and places public safety at the forefront of decision-making. This will ensure that not criminally responsible accused people found to be too dangerous to release are no longer a threat to their victims or Canadian communities.”

The new legislation 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 must be held in custody and cannot be considered for release by a review board until their designation is revoked by a court. The other consequences of being designated as a high-risk NCR accused include that their review periods could be extended to up to three years, such individuals would not be entitled to unescorted passes, and could only obtain an escorted pass in narrow circumstances and subject to sufficient conditions to protect public safety.
  • Enhancing Victims’ Involvement – the legislation will 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 allowing non-communications orders between an NCR accused and the victim.

Access to treatment for any NCR accused person would not be affected by the proposed reforms.

The introduction of this legislation is part of the Harper Government’s Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, which is one of four priorities identified last week by the Prime Minister. It focuses on tackling crime, victims’ rights, and fair and efficient justice. The legislation builds on actions that have already been taken to further advance the interests of victims of crime. These actions include the creation of the Office of the Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, and the introduction of legislation to double the victims’ surcharge.

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