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Nehass’ plight ‘sad state of affairs’: judge

October 02, 2017

A Yukon Supreme Court justice has issued a damning memorandum on the treatment of a mentally ill Indigenous man in the territory’s criminal justice system.

A Yukon Supreme Court justice has issued a damning memorandum on the treatment of a mentally ill Indigenous man in the territory’s criminal justice system.

Justice Ron Veale says that Michael Nehass’ “odyssey of incarceration” is a “sad state of affairs” for the Yukon.

Nehass, a 33-year-old Tahltan First Nation man who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, remained in pre-trial custody and segregation while presumed innocent for nearly five years at the Whitehorse Correctional Centre (WCC).

His criminal case concluded on Sept. 8 when the Crown filed a stay of proceedings at a hearing for a judicial stay application by the defence. 

An unusual document to come from a judge, Veale says the memorandum is meant to “highlight the events that took place and to bring them to the attention of the public” rather than a finding of fact or liability. 

In it, Veale writes that a “significant and outstanding concern” in Nehass’ case is that he was never connected with the necessary mental health services while he was incarcerated in Whitehorse.

Read more on the Whitehorse Star website.

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