Wish de­nied

Judge de­ter­mines jail­ing woman would be re­ward­ing her for her crimes

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE PROVINCE - BY RYAN ROSS THE GUARDIAN rross@the­guardian.pe.ca twit­ter.com/ryan­r­ross

It’s not ev­ery day some­one tells a judge they want to go to jail.

But when a 20-year-old woman who was in Chief Judge John Dou­glas’s court­room Tues­day asked for jail time she didn’t get her wish.

The woman, who The Guardian has cho­sen not to name be­cause of her men­tal health is­sues, was in pro­vin­cial in court in Char­lot­te­town fac­ing an as­sault charge af­ter she punched and bit one of the men car­ing for her dur­ing an ex­cur­sion from the Hills­bor­ough Hos­pi­tal.

She is un­der the guardian­ship of P.E.I.’s public guardian of­fice and has been a pa­tient at the Hills­bor­ough Hos­pi­tal for al­most three years.

The court heard that dur­ing her time in hos­pi­tal the woman was in­volved in nu­mer­ous in­ci­dents of self-harm and as­sault.

That in­cluded 36 in­ci­dents in 2013 and six in 2014.

On April 15, the woman was out with sev­eral hos­pi­tal em­ploy­ees who were do­nat­ing items to Value Vil­lage in Char­lot­te­town and giv­ing her time to shop. In­stead, she ran away. When one of the hos­pi­tal em­ploy­ees caught up to her she punched him three times and bit him on the calf.

The bite was hard enough to break the skin.

Her goal, the court was told, was to get ar­rested and moved to jail be­cause she thought it would be an im­prove­ment over her sit­u­a­tion at the hos­pi­tal.

Be­fore the sen­tenc­ing, the woman was sent to Hal­i­fax for a men­tal health as­sess­ment where it was de­ter­mined she was crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble.

When it came to the sen­tence, the woman and her lawyer dis­agreed on what should hap­pen to her.

De­fence lawyer Thane MacEach­ern said it was far from a straight­for­ward case.

Be­cause of her be­hav­iour, the woman had spent time con­fined to a room with only a mat­tress and two men sta­tioned out­side the door for ob­ser­va­tion, MacEach­ern said.

“That’s worse than soli­tary con­fine­ment.”

MacEach­ern said the Hills­bor­ough Hos­pi­tal was not the place for her, but there was no clear plan in place for the woman, although mov­ing her to the Queen El­iz­a­beth Hos­pi­tal’s men­tal health unit was a pos­si­bil­ity.

When the woman ad­dressed the court she said she had been at­tack­ing peo­ple at the Hills­bor­ough Hos­pi­tal and has got­ten used to be­ing locked in a room by her­self.

“I don’t feel like I’ve re­ally been pun­ished for it,” she said.

The woman said she felt if she went back to Hills­bor­ough Hos­pi­tal she would go back to her same pat­terns and con­tinue to as­sault peo­ple un­til she goes to jail.

As Dou­glas be­gan to ex­plain the sen­tence he was go­ing to im­pose, he said it was a very dif­fi­cult case in­volv­ing a se­ri­ous as­sault.

He also said he wished he had some­where else to send her.

Send­ing her to jail would re­ward the woman so he de­cided not to give her jail time, Dou­glas said.

“We don’t send peo­ple to jail be­cause they want to go to jail.”

Dou­glas gave the woman a sus­pended sen­tence with one year of pro­ba­tion.

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