A brutal murderer has been allowed to walk free three times a week to “refamiliarise himself with the community” and develop his computer skills, despite the Parole Board deeming him too dangerous for release.
Jason Butler is one of a group of convicted killers who have swapped jail for mental health units while serving life sentences, becoming special patients under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act.
As a result, they can get up to a week’s unsupervised leave while under treatment, depending on doctors’ recommendations, which must be approved by the director of mental health.
But some of their victims’ families and friends are calling for an urgent review of such killers’ leave after murderer Phillip Smith’s brazen escape to Brazil during temporary leave from Waikato’s Spring Hill prison last month.
His escape led to a temporary halt of all inmates’ leave and a Corrections Department review, but it didn’t include convicted offenders in mental health care.
A ministerial inquiry was launched to probe Smith’s escape, but it was yet unknown whether it would include special patients’ leave.
“I think it bloody sucks because in two hours, he could be on my doorstep. That fellow got to Brazil, mate,” the best friend of Butler’s victim said about his three-times-a-week unsupervised leave.
If he is so inclined, he can leave a trail of destruction in mere hours. And this is what needs to be balanced before letting them go on unsupervised Tiki-tours. Read more »