Expanding the Boundaries of Research Involving Death and Near Death When Liberty is Attenuated

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Lawful Detention, Infringement of Liberty, Death in Custody, Near-Death in Custody, Research and Policy, Canadian Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody, Suggestions for Reform, Canadian Penitentiary Institutions, State Supervision


The notion that the state has special responsibilities to protect and care for persons who are lawfully detained is well established in international and domestic law. When government reduces a citizen's liberty so egregiously, the quid pro quo must be to ensure that the inmate is kept in an environment which strives to reduce the risks of disease, mental health problems, self-harm and violence, as well as providing rehabilitative and therapeutic supports. This ideal is not always attained and, at its worst, the death of an inmate may result. Howard Sapers is no doubt correct in his companion article in which he has highlighted the need for the development of a Canadian Forum for Preventing Deaths in Custody. In this comment, it is argued that the research and policy mandate of such a new entity should be broadened to include additional types of institutions, near-death or similarly serious calamities, early post-release events and former inmates and others subject to state supervision while living in the community. A more expansive approach will produce better outcomes in a wider range of institutions and community settings for citizens who are far more vulnerable than those who live without such state controls.


Also available via the Justice Report website http://www.justicereport.ca/home3.htm#page/14.