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Canada’s aging federal prison population: health disparity, risk, and compassionate release for older persons convicted of sexual offences

Faculty Advisor




aging population, Correctional Services Canada forensic nursing, risk, sexual offenses

Abstract (summary)

The Canadian federal prison population is increasingly aging within institutions that were never intended or designed to meet the complex medical and mental health needs of older incarcerated persons. Increasing numbers of incarcerated persons are “aging in place,” and many are dying within federal correctional institutions. Persons convicted of sexual offenses comprise a large—and growing—proportion of this aging population. The Correctional Investigator Canada has recently called for an expansion of access to compassionate release for the aging federal prison population, yet little progress has been made. In this article, we explore the significant challenges faced by the aging population in federal institutions, including insufficient access to appropriate care, challenges in application for compassionate release, and how questions of risk may affect the potential for community transfer. Questions of risk overshadow decisions on early release of incarcerated persons, especially those convicted of sexual offenses. Nurses play a central role in the provision of care to aging incarcerated persons and in advocacy for better access to services when a patient's needs cannot be met within the institution. This article presents a call to action for forensic nurses in Canada (and beyond) to advocate for both improved services within federal correctional institutions and for expedited access to compassionate release of aging incarcerated persons, especially those nearing end of life. The significant disparity in access to health care for aging incarcerated persons compared with their nonincarcerated counterparts represents a significant concern.

Publication Information

Johansson, J. A., Paradis-Gagné, E. & Holmes, D. (2023). Canada’s aging federal prison population: Health disparity, risk, and compassionate release for older persons convicted of sexual offences. Journal of Forensic Nursing, 19 (2), 115-121.


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