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Developmentally delayed woman continues cycle in and out of jail

Mar 21 2012

A developmentally delayed woman who spent 200 days in jail last year was released on bail conditions again Tuesday.

Barbree Elliott spent 13 days at the Surrey Pretrial Centre after being arrested March 7 for breaching her bail conditions.

Elliott, 29, has the cognitive ability of a five-to seven-year-old child. She suffers from bipolar disorder and is also a drug addict and a sex-trade worker.

Reports presented to the court suggest that she needs at least continuous supervision, and that locked confinement is probably the only way to keep her safe.

In January, her lawyer, Jesse Stamm, made a public plea to the provincial government, the Vancouver Island Health Authority and Community Living B.C. to build a facility to look after vulnerable, marginalized people such as his client.

In the latest incident, Elliott, who has a 6 p.m. curfew, was picked up by police near Bastion Square around 10: 45 p.m. on March 7, Stamm said.

Elliott was to appear in Victoria's Integrated Court on March 13, but her flight to Victoria was cancelled due to the windstorm and she was forced to spend another seven days in jail.

"It's just another unfortunate chapter in Barbree's life," Stamm said. "She seems OK, just disappointed about missing last week's court appointment because of the windstorm."

Elliott will be back in integrated court next Tuesday.

Stamm said he may know by the end of the month whether Elliott is eligible for a referral to Community Living B.C.'s Provincial Assessment Centre.

Stamm has asked for Elliott to undergo a comprehensive 90-day psychiatric assessment at the centre, which provides mental health services for people with development disabilities and a mental illness or behavioural issues.

"We want to investigate her deterioration," Stamm said in an earlier interview.

"Her decline has been dramatic over the last two years," he said. "We want to see if it can be treated with medication or if Barbree is suffering from anything organic."

Representatives of CLBC, VIHA and Forensic Psychiatric Services have discussed whether it is appropriate to fast-track Elliott up a 50-month waiting list for the semi-secure Seven Oaks mental health facility in Saanich.

In the meantime, CLBC, which delivers support and services for developmentally delayed adults in B.C., provides the funding for her care.

In 2009, the Crown agency provided 24-hour supervision for Elliott.

In 2010, senior members of CLBC went to court and confirmed they were not able to provide a locked facility because it is a voluntary service.

The 24-hour monitoring has been reduced to three to four hours of supervision a day at an Esquimalt apartment.


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