Telling it like it i

I’d like to commend the Western News for its article of April 1, which included a photo of Phillipe Poisson.

Members of the public can readily identify this young man who is the subject of an RCMP and provincial court judge’s warnings. The facts published in the article gave us an in-depth explanation as to why this young man had spent time in an institution before he was 18 years of age and why it was important for the RCMP to issue a warning here in Penticton.

Through the reporting of court hearing testimony by Dr. Melinda Nichols, we learned that Poisson will require life-long treatment that she says is not currently available to him here in Penticton. Is it available anywhere? Is he required by law to have that treatment?

The Western News (April 13) letter to the editor, by Sherry Ure, states, “Phillipe has not been charged with any offence”. I’d like to point out that while he was not charged or convicted in Penticton, he was placed on a 24-month recognizance at the hearing at Penticton provincial court and that fact can’t be ignored. I believe that despite all the treatments available, nothing short of 24-7 supervision can totally ensure forcing any individual to take their meds and or prevent a suicide.

Anne Reinders’ letter of April 13 accuses the Western’s style of presenting the information as “further victimizing Mr. Poisson”. I disagree. I believe that the facts provided the public with a better understanding of the severity of Poisson’s problems while stressing an urgency for us to be more alert. Public safety and a safe environment for our children and grandchildren must be first and foremost a priority over a perpetrator’s rights.

We’ve all seen what has happened recently, when Alan Schoenborn, a father who murdered his three little children, was sent to an institution as opposed to a jail because he was found, due to a mental condition, not responsible for his crimes. He was given permission to have escorted day passes. That’s how the legal system works. Meanwhile, the children’s mother, who has become a victim for life due to this crime, has had to bear the brunt of his potential day pass outings and has little in the way of “rights” herself. Thanks to her cousin’s outcry and subsequent action by Barry Penner, that decision was overturned.

In the Poisson case, any worker can experience burnout due to high demands in stressful situations, and counsellors do have a tough job dealing with issues that skirt the line when it comes to dealing with serious offenders who have also been victims.

I don’t believe that hiding the facts from the public or keeping potential repeat offender in a protective shell serves anybody’s best interests. I do agree that this young man is entitled to receive the treatment that he requires, and hopefully the powers that be will see to it he gets it. Thank you to the Western for reporting the court hearing like it was.

Jean Mitchell