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Bad Law For Mad Killers


Bad Law For Mad Killers

ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks today urged a rethink of the system that draws such huge distinction between `mad' and `bad', after reports that Raurimu killer Stephen Anderson is entitled to leave into the community - only six years after killing six people.

"Whether he be `mad' or `bad', the fact of the matter is that Stephen Anderson went on a rampage and deliberately ended the lives of six people. How can we be sure he will not do so again once he's back out on the streets?" Mr Franks said.

"Insanity should affect the kind of custody but - until we have better reason to trust the psychiatric system - it should not mean that the victims' families have to find the killer wandering amongst them, long before anyone could say he will never do it again.

"Anderson was acquitted by reason of insanity. There's no doubt he killed six people - yet he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. The verdict should be guilty, but insane.

"Insane killers shouldn't be in prison, but should be in custody - they should be locked up while the madness persists, even if it could be controlled by medication. Concern for others' safety is only part of this. It's unfair to victims, and those who fear becoming so, for the mental health system to say, `trust us, we know what we're doing', when clearly they don't.

"Though it should matter that Stephen Anderson was `mad' at the time, it shouldn't mean he is treated as if his insanity has no more importance than ordinary mental illness. He is a killer. He stopped taking his medication once - after only six years, who's to say he won't again? Should he kill again, he will be treated as a victim of the `mad' variety.

"The distinction between sane and insane killers puts more innocent lives at risk. I have long objected to this - dare I say it - insane division, as well as the fact that `life imprisonment' can mean anything from one year to 17 years.

"What will the Government say if Stephen Anderson kills again? `It was not our fault, we thought he was curably mad, not bad'. Ordinary commonsense knows it is possible to be both at the same time. Either way, we can be sure of exactly what his next victims' families would think," Mr Franks said.

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