Closing institutions decades ago has caused people to resort to self-medication and many are falling through the cracks, says letter writer. (News Bulletin file photo)

Closing institutions decades ago has caused people to resort to self-medication and many are falling through the cracks, says letter writer. (News Bulletin file photo)

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Shutting down institutions has shifted social problems

Numbers of repeat offenders are staggering, but not surprising, says letter writer

To the editor,

Re: B.C. cities protest ‘prolific offenders’ with hundreds of arrests, April 26.

A recently released letter from the British Columbian Urban Mayors’ Caucus gives the impression that municipal policing in the province has gone to hell in a handbasket. The big-city mayors reported on the subject of repeat offenders; the numbers tabulated are staggering, but not really surprising to anyone who keeps up with daily news events. One repeat offender had generated 248 police incidents in a two-year period on Vancouver Island. He’s only one of those who the mayors referred to as chronic offenders who are involved in a ridiculous catch-and-release-hide-and-seek shell game, all suffering from drug addiction or mental illness, and usually both. This terrible situation is in every community in British Columbia, in all Canadian provinces, and across just about every country world-wide to varying degrees.

Those of a certain vintage can remember the civil rights era of the 1960s and 1970s when there were detailed media reports from mental health institutions in several countries regarding mistreatment of inmates. Eventually just about all isolated institutions were closed and patients were to be treated in their own communities; either at home, halfway houses, clinics or hospitals. It became known as deinstitutionalization, and was implemented around the world by pandering politicians and well-meaning experts who were themselves suffering from highly inflamed imaginations.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Institutionalize those in need by opening healing centres

Tragically, it created even more problems with a huge amount of people resorting to self-medication and falling through the bureaucratic cracks. A direct result of those decisions all those decades ago can be seen in the homeless populations in downtown areas of cities worldwide, and in horrendous numbers of recidivism reported by the urban mayors’ caucus.

There used to be a saying that the inmates are running the asylum, but even with no asylums these days, those who should be inmates are still in charge.

Bernie Smith, Parksville

READ ALSO: Nanaimo mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin.

Letters policy: Letters should be no longer than 250 words and will be edited. Preference is given to letters expressing an opinion on issues of local relevance or responding to items published in the News Bulletin. Include your address (it won’t be published) and a first name or two initials, and a surname. Unsigned letters will not be published.

Mail: Letters, Nanaimo News Bulletin, 777 Poplar St., Nanaimo, B.C. V9S 2H7

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Letters to the editor