Older Federal Inmates: Needs, Institutional Treatment, and Legal Implications
Iftene, Adelina Diana
Charter rights , Inmates
This thesis is a blend of social science methodology and legal interpretation aimed at investigating the quality of life of older Canadian federally incarcerated offenders and whether their rights are being respected. For this study I used social science empirical methodology to answer certain legal questions, such as: what are the needs of older male offenders and how are these needs influencing the exercise of their legal rights? Are institutions prepared to deal with the increased needs of older offenders? If no, is this an infringement of this group’s rights? Is the Canadian legal framework broad or specific enough to offer protection to the vulnerabilities of the older male prison population? First, I was able to establish a set of acute and chronic needs that older male offenders have. Second, I encountered a series of legal, policy, and institutional limitations in responding to those needs. All these seem to show a diminished quality of life for older male offenders, a profound sense of dehumanization, an erosion of their community ties, and greater fears regarding their release. Under such circumstances it seems sensible that the CSC approach towards older offenders needs to change. If such change does not come voluntarily, it is the duty of the courts to have a flexible and open-minded approach towards different actions that challenge the current prison regime. A number of legal actions based on statutory and constitutional norms are explored in this dissertation in an attempt to improve the protection of prisoners’ rights in light of the findings presented in this study. I conclude by making three sets of recommendations (legal, policy, and institutional) that could help align the treatment of older inmates with the Canadian societal values, as well as Canada’s international commitments.