Older Adults and the Justice System


Executive Summary

The Provincial Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee (HSJCC) has developed a guidebook to help caregivers and service providers of older adults and adults with age-related conditions navigate the justice system.

Older adults and the justice system became a priority for the HSJCC Network after its members, who work across the human services and justice sectors, began observing older adults interacting more with police, being involved in more courtrooms and being detained more frequently in correctional facilities across Ontario. 

Current demographic data shows that there are more Canadians aged 65 and older than Canadians below age 15 for the first time ever. All areas of the justice system have felt this demographic shift. Police officers are responding to incidents involving older adults, including domestic violence, wandering and incidents of financial fraud. When criminal charges are laid, courtrooms and correctional facilities struggle to meet the needs of this vulnerable population. Dementia, mental health issues and substance use can further impact an older adult’s ability to successfully navigate the system. Many caregivers do not understand the criminal justice or mental health law systems and are not made aware of resources that could improve outcomes for their loved ones.

Older Adults and the Justice System: A navigational guidebook for caregivers and service providers was informed through a series of consultations with experts from the human services and justice sectors. The guidebook outlines a variety of age-related conditions and presents strategies for working with or caring for these populations. Best practices for engaging with the police and the courts are explored, with detailed summaries of the criminal and mental health law systems. Finally, challenges and available services in correctional facilities are described, including supportive housing options.

Older Adults and the Justice System is coming soon!