The purpose of this paper is to explore whether, although the state has a duty to protect prisoners, there should nevertheless be a right for prisoners to decide when and how they die.
Utilising a utopian thought experiment, the paper covers a series of interrelated issues: the aims of punishment, the functions of prisons, the rights of prisoners and the responsibilities of the state towards inmates. While the paper takes a European focus, it is of interest to a global audience, as the philosophical ideas raised are universally applicable.
As the right to die advances in society, so should it advance for prisoners. Once assisted dying has been legalised, it should also be available for dying prisoners.
The question has so far not been analysed in depth. With an ageing prison population, however, it is vital that we start engaging with the problems posed by an ageing and dying prison population.