Thank you for the interesting article about Dorle Kneifel [“Crime and injustice”, November 11-18]. My heart goes out to her.
I wanted to comment on the author’s statement: “Kneifel today has resumed her position as a respected and contributing member of society.” I am sure the author only meant that in a positive way, but it is a judgment.
Does this mean that when she was not working, she was not respected and could not contribute to society in any way? Please be careful with your choice of words. I am a Burnaby teacher on long-term disability. Yes, my sense of self and the way that others perceive me have probably changed since I stopped work. However, I still feel respected and able to contribute to society.
> Janice Laurence / New Westminster
The Straight’s report on the Stephen Lowry–Dorle Kneifel case unfortunately gave the wrong impression on several critical points, notwithstanding that Dr. Kneifel has our sympathy for suffering a horrible experience.
The headline was “Crime and injustice”, but there was no injustice. There was a long trial in which the onus was on the defence to establish that the defendant was not criminally responsible because of a mental disorder, and he was so found. Stephen Lowry was indeed quite ill at the time of the act in question.
It was equally misleading to say the trial was “controversial” because of contradictory expert testimony, suggesting there was something murky and indefinite in the judge’s findings. Opposing “expert” testimony is quite common in trials—not at all controversial. The judge found the expert witnesses called by the Crown not very convincing.
The Straight’s front-page headline, “Veiled Justice”, was also inappropriate. The trial and the judge’s long written decision demonstrated open and transparent justice.
Finally, the subhead on the front page, “an encounter with evil”, was incorrect, being stated as fact rather than being attributed to Dr. Kneifel. The violence Dr. Kneifel endured was terrible, and may leave psychological scars for a long time to come, but it was a manifestation of severe illness, not evil.
The mentally ill are no more violent than the general population when they receive treatment.
> Herschel Hardin / president, North Shore Schizophrenia Society