The double murder in Edmonton’s Chinatown could have been avoided

Justin Bone is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection with the May 18 deaths of two men in Edmonton’s Chinatown.

He was released from the Edmonton Remand Center at the end of April on conditions not to use drugs or alcohol and not to be in Alberta’s capital unsupervised.

He should also have attended a drug treatment program, but a backlog of patients meant that direct transfers from correctional facilities were not being accepted at this time. So he went to live with a family friend in Alberta Beach.

Exasperated by Justin Bone’s drug and alcohol abuse as well as by the threats he made against him, the latter asked the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) of Parkland to get Justin Bone out of his home. Thus, on May 15, the RCMP dropped him off in west Edmonton.

Three days later, the 36-year-old man was arrested in connection with the tragedy that claimed the lives of Hung Trang and Ban Phuc Hoang. The two sixties were beaten to death in two separate businesses in the 98e Street, in Chinatown, near downtown.

In a statement last week, Justice Minister Tyler Shandro disclosed that Justin Bone had been offered a place at another treatment center that did not have a waiting list, but did not say when this offer was made.

The series of events leading up to the tragedy sparked criticism of the actions of the police as well as the follow-up offered by social services.

Lawyers, community workers and addiction specialists believe that patients who are released from detention centers are neglected. They would very often be left to their own devices, without close monitoring by social services in order to prevent them from falling back into the consumption of narcotics.

The police also criticized

In addition to criticism aimed at social services, the actions of the police have also come under criticism.

We prepare people to relapsedenounces Mark Cherrington of the Coalition for Justice and the Defense of Human Rights, a non-profit organization working in the Edmonton area.

He said it’s extremely common for inmates released on condition of drug treatment to be dropped off in Edmonton, usually downtown and late at night when they have nowhere else to go.

By putting these people in such precarious conditions, we [leur ] impose stressors that may cause them to act in ways that could be harmful to themselves or othersemphasizes Mark Cherrington.

The murder of the two sexagenarians had given rise to a demonstration in front of the city hall, in Edmonton, to demand the strengthening of security in Chinatown (archives).

Photo: Radio-Canada / Emily Fitzpatrick

Advocate for more spaces

The length of the waiting lists for a place in an addiction treatment center varies in the Edmonton area.

For instance, Our House Addiction Recovery Center mentions that about 50 men are usually on the nonprofit’s waiting list. When a place becomes available, it is usually filled in less than 24 hours.

Alberta Health Services, which also operates drug treatment facilities, says the average wait time to access treatment in recent months was 22 days.

The Alberta government says it funded twice as many addiction treatment spaces as promised last year.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro agrees release plans must be successful, and they will be when faster access to support, including addictions treatment, becomes available.

Danielle Boisvert, an Edmonton criminal defense lawyer and president of Edmonton’s Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, believes an interim housing solution, similar to a hospital emergency department, could help those at risk to reoffend.

There has to be a part of the social services system, in my opinion, that is there to deal with these types of emergenciesshe suggests.

Addiction experts agree that the risk of relapse for someone who has just left a correctional facility or treatment center is high.

She moves from a very structured environment to one that probably isn’t, and that brings a lot of stress.says Sherwood Park-certified addiction therapist and psychologist Tracy McGimpsey.

Registered psychologist Jorge Ortiz, who is based in Edmonton and has spent many years working with inmates as well as in treatment facilities, cautions, however, that individuals need to be motivated because those providing services cannot force anyone.

He suggests a more multidisciplinary approach to helping people overcome their addictions and improve their mental health.

That could include cultural support, including helping natives like Justin Bone heal from intergenerational trauma, suggests Leigh-anne Sheldon, a licensed psychologist who owns an Edmonton-based business that provides psychological services to natives.

I personally believe that all of this could have been avoided.she shares.

With information from Madeleine Cummings, Ariel Fournier, Janet French and Wallis Snowdon

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