9.02.2010

innocent, mentally ill man jailed during g20 still in prison

In case you missed it: "crossbow guy," a mentally ill man who has done nothing wrong, is still in jail.
Two months after he was pulled over in his car, surrounded by two dozen police officers and arrested for having a crossbow near the G20 zone in downtown Toronto, a 53-year-old man with mental-health issues is still in jail.

Gary McCullough was one the first people taken into custody by G20 security personnel, and though they quickly acknowledged he had nothing to do with the summit of world leaders, he is one of the last still in detention.

The Crown says the Haliburton County, Ont., man intended to use the crossbow for a dangerous purpose and poses a threat to the public, for which he should be held without bail until his trial in the fall.

McCullough's advocates, however, say his is a tragic case of a man with a history of mental illness being in the wrong place with the wrong implements at the wrong time.

. . . .

So McCullough has been in Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton, west of Toronto, for the last two months.

By all accounts, it has been a devastating time for him. Jail culture has unwritten rules — who can use the phone when, what to do when you come back from a court hearing (shower), how to talk to the guards (don't) — that McCullough's mental condition hinders his ability to appreciate.

. . .

One altercation with another inmate turned violent, and while neither Hundert nor defence lawyer Carlisle would divulge details, McCullough's father said his son suffered several broken ribs. He was moved into segregated custody, where, barring a successful appeal of his bail, he will remain until his Oct. 6 trial in Toronto.

Meanwhile, his psychological and emotional states have been deteriorating.

"He's totally frustrated that he's been in there this long and totally innocent, as far as he's concerned, and nobody's doing anything about it," Kem McCullough said.

Hundert put it this way: "His ability to take care of himself in jail was decreasing as time wore on. He can't understand how or why they're able to do this to him."

Underlying McCullough's continuing detention, Hundert and Carlisle and Kem McCullough all contend, is a grave systemic discrimination, whereby people with a history of mental illness are too often seen as dangerous and, among other consequences, denied release, at least on the same terms as anybody else.

This isn't "tragic". It's criminal, and it's a disgrace.

5 comments:

redsock said...

It sounds like "torture", as well.

They knew right away he had nothing to do with the G20, but he "poses a threat to the public".

Don't we all? I did not realize Canada had instituted precrime.

Mike said...

Wow I hadn't heard of this, but still maybe I'm a bit jaded as far as law enforcement goes but this unfortunately doesn't surprise me though it does offend me.
Relatedly(?) I realized a while ago that even before the "riots" on that Saturday the police were already violating charter rights as far as search and seizure weeks before the G20 weekend, I don't really hear much of about that from the folks who excuse the police because they had to reassert control after the "riot". Talk about precrime...not to mention the pre event harassment of activists or the arrests of protestors and organizers early in the morning before the event. I guess being from Quebec and in Ontario is a crime, I never realized that before.

L-girl said...

It certainly does not surprise me, but if I only posted what surprised me, this blog would be very small indeed.

And yes, activist groups, homes and apartments were raided, arrested and jailed days before the G20 ever began. Very very very disturbing.

impudent strumpet said...

Off-topic, I'm super curious about why you're supposed to shower after coming back from a court hearing.

On-topic, on top of all the other reasons why it's hella scary that they can just put you in jail for months and months without a trial, that could literally ruin a person's life! If you disappear for three months, you'll have lost your job, you'll have been evicted, your landlord has probably sold all your possessions, your credit is ruined...even if you're found innocent, the police can just grab you off the street and ruin your life!

L-girl said...

Two excellent posts on this, from Dr Dawg and Alison.