The Dementia Justice Society of Canada recently completed its review of 65 sub-national dementia (and some aging and health) strategies to see whether they mention criminal justice, in the context of people with dementia coming into conflict with the criminal justice system as accused persons, offenders, or prisoners. The review analyzed strategies from sub-national jurisdictions within Australia (4), Canada (13), Germany (2), and the United States (46).
Clear references to criminal justice in such contexts were rare. There were three notable exceptions: Florida; Rhode Island; and Bavaria, Germany. Florida’s State Plan included a detailed discussion of various scenarios in which law enforcement may encounter someone with dementia, and it stressed the importance of having officers trained in dementia and its associated behaviours.
Rhode Island’s State Plan identified a training initiative underway in the state that is a “collaboration between the [Drug Enforcement Agency], the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Association and the Department of Corrections to provide Alzheimer’s disease education and training to prison wardens and clinicians.” The plan’s legal subgroup also stressed the importance of addressing housing placement challenges by people living with Alzheimer’s disease who have spent time in prison.
The dementia strategy in Bavaria, Germany identified a two-hour training course for police, which included information on responding to reports of shoplifting, which can be a common transgression by people with dementia (e.g., due to forgetting to pay, disinhibition). The strategy also identified a training program for newly appointed judges.
Among all the strategies, four themes connected or potentially connected to an aspect of the criminal justice system emerged:
It is encouraging to see criminal justice addressed in several of the plans. There are some promising initiatives underway. However, overall, the findings underscore our observation that there is still considerable work to be done to address the challenges that persons with dementia may face when they come into conflict with the criminal justice system.
To read the full review, please follow the link below.
Criminal Justice in Sub-National Dementia Strategies: A Review
About Dementia Justice
Dementia Justice is a federally incorporated non-profit society dedicated to advancing the rights, needs and dignity of people with dementia who are, or are at risk of becoming, involved with the criminal justice system. It strives to achieve its objectives through public advocacy, awareness-raising, education and research.
Revised August 20, 2017