Hypoglycemia in police custody and in prison
Professor Brian M Frier of the Editorial Board
Diabetic Hypoglycemia January 2010, Volume 2, Issue 3: page 1-2
The present issue of Diabetic Hypoglycemia includes an important review article by Vincent Marks about the role of hypoglycemia in provoking crimes and misdemeanors that bring people with diabetes into conflict with the law, and emphasizes the medico-legal and forensic relevance of this metabolic state. While most cases of this nature involve hypoglycemia-induced driving violations, hypoglycemia has also been implicated in a wide range of offences and crimes, from shop-lifting to assault and murder. Hypoglycemia may be offered as a legal defense in some cases, and a specialist in diabetes is often required to provide a medical report.
This association of hypoglycemia-related offences with arrest and imprisonment raises another related matter of considerable practical importance, which can have serious consequences. In people with diabetes who are treated with insulin or sulfonylureas, hypoglycemia can occur anywhere and at any time of day. The risk of hypoglycemia may be greater in relation to enforced custody – either during short-term detention following arrest by the police, or during a long-term prison sentence.