Justice Canada has launched public consultations on its Transformation of the Criminal Justice System initiative. It is seeking the views of Canadians on how the criminal justice system can be transformed to reflect the evolving needs of society. In response to the government's call, the Dementia Justice Society of Canada made a submission on modernizing the criminal justice system to better address the needs of persons with dementia.
Most people with dementia will not come into conflict with the criminal justice system. However, as society ages and dementia prevalence increases, a transformed and modern criminal justice system must be able to meet the unique needs of this vulnerable population. Ignoring this challenge is not a reasonable option.
The submission identifies five broad, thematic priority areas which Dementia Justice believes can help shape the development and implementation of a comprehensive approach to dementia and criminal justice in Canada. The priority areas are:
1. Awareness, Education & Training;
4. Treatment, Care & Housing; and
5. System Integration.
Building on the good work already underway, Dementia Justice proposes that the federal government bring together all stakeholders to develop a national Dementia and Criminal Justice Action Framework. The aim of this pan-Canadian framework would be to identify and close gaps in services and supports, identify and implement promising approaches and best-practices, with the ultimate goal of ensuring public safety and improving the quality of life for people with dementia who come into conflict with the criminal justice system. The Action Framework could be one aspect of Canada’s future comprehensive national dementia strategy.
By addressing the priorities in the submission, and through the development and implementation of an Action Framework, Canada would be at the international forefront of recognizing and responding to the intersection of dementia and the criminal justice system.
Most importantly, Dementia Justice believes that a transformed and responsive criminal justice system has the potential to enhance public safety and improve the quality of life of people who are affected by dementia.
Submission to the Government of Canada, Department of Justice: Transformation of the Criminal Justice System (August 2017).
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 interdisciplinary legal and policy research.