Mentally-ill offender Sandy Charles to change hospitals

SASKATOON – Mentally-ill offender Sandy Charles is “no longer a risk” in Saskatoon’s Regional Psychiatric Centre, according to mental health professionals there.

It was recommended in a Thursday hearing that Sandy Charles be moved from the RPC to Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford. The review board said it hopes to have a final answer by the end of June.

Sandy Charles was 14-years-old when he and an eight-year-old accomplice horrifically murdered a seven-year old boy in La Ronge in 1995, stabbing and beating the boy, then cooking his flesh.

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Charles was found “not criminally responsible” and a judge determined the 14-year-old was suffering from delusions and mental illness.

After more than a decade at RPC, many who work with Charles said he’s ready to move on. But review board members, including Saskatchewan Hospital lawyer Morris Bodnar, says it’s a big decision.

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“The concern that the hospital has is that it doesn’t have the security facilities that RPC does,” said Bodnar.

For Charles, such a transition signifies a big step towards re-integrating into society.

The Bill C54, introduced by the Harper Government, would toughen rules for violent offenders deemed “not criminally responsible,” keeping them institutionalized longer and allowing victims’ families to have more of a voice in the process.

But according to the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, 93 to 95 per cent of released offenders found not criminally responsible never re-offend again.

“The federal government, presently, does not understand the criminal justice system,” said Bodnar.

“The federal government is catering to win votes rather than doing what is just in our society.”

For now, Charles said he hopes to find a new home at the Saskatchewan Hospital.

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