Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Not even a band-aid solution

R. v. T.Q., 2016 NUCJ 04 is a troubling case.  Here a young man with good prospects for rehabilitation was sentenced to a term of incarceration without treatment because there was no treatment available.  The central problem is as set out in this comment:

Essentially, what we have accomplished through the court process is to simply diagnosis and label a problem, but nothing further. The situation is similar to having a medical doctor diagnose a broken leg, recommend a cast, and then not have the resources available to put on a cast.

The Court writes:

[36] I am now required to impose a fit and proper sentence on a youthful offender whose prospects for rehabilitation are good provided the appropriate interventions take place at this early stage. Under such circumstances the sentencing decision should emphasize rehabilitation as that is in the best long term interests of both the offender and the community.

[37] However, I am advised that there is no treatment available. Essentially, what we have accomplished through the court process is to simply diagnosis and label a problem, but nothing further. The situation is similar to having a medical doctor diagnose a broken leg, recommend a cast, and then not have the resources available to put on a cast.

[38] Significant resources and money were expended at the assessment stage of the process, all of which is futile if there cannot be follow-up and treatment.

[39] The consequences of this are significant for both Mr. Q and for society. Mr. Q wants treatment and wants to stop the offending behaviour. Left untreated, he is at moderately high risk to reoffend. There may be more victims, who will have their own trauma to deal with and may or may not be able to access counselling. If Mr. Q reoffends, the assessment he underwent will be used not to provide him with appropriate treatment, but to argue that he is a diagnosed, untreated sex offender who, because he is untreated, poses a significant threat to the public.

[40] When one considers that Mr. Q’s circumstances are not unique, the long term consequences to our society are dispiriting.


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