Critics are wondering why Kyle Jackson was released from police custody twice in the week before he was arrested for allegedly taking a three-year-old boy hostage at knifepoint.

The 24-year-old homeless man is charged with taking of a hostage, aggravated assault, unlawful confinement, assault with a weapon and possession of a dangerous weapon after an eight-hour stand-off with Vancouver police at a Downtown Eastside community centre.

The charges ended a tumultuous week for Jackson. He was charged with assault with a weapon on Nov. 16, but released from custody the next day.

Two days later, he was back in custody for allegedly breaching the conditions of his release, but was set free again -- despite objections from the Crown.

Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie says that prosecutors understand judges have to balance priorities.

"Anyone is entitled to seek bail, and the court will only deny a person bail when there's a concern that the person poses a risk," he told CTV News.

One of the conditions of Jackson's release was that he not enter a large area of the Downtown Eastside, including near the Ray-Cam Community Centre. He was also prohibited from carrying weapons.

Jackson is now undergoing a psychiatric assessment, but community outreach worker Dave Dickson says he never should  have been released.

"When you see something like this, you've got to recognize it," he said. "It's the same old story -- nobody seems to take notice that this guy is deteriorating and getting out of control and it's no surprise something like this happened."

Police say it wasn't clear to them if Jackson had mental health issues.

"The man was making sense at times and at other times he wasn't. The courts will be looking at that. All of that has gone now to Crown counsel as evidence," Const. Lindsey Houghton said.

But Dickson spent 30 years as a police officer in the Downtown Eastside, and says little has changed -- especially for those with mental health problems who end up in court.

"The judges have to have some leverage to put these people back into either Riverview or a treatment centre that's locked down for at least the first little while until we can get them stabilized," he said.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Mike Killeen