Sunday, February 26, 2012

Elderly prison population

            Elderly prison population has been growing at a very rapid rate. According to USA Today, “As of 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 121,000 inmates age 50 and over were in state or federal prisons, more than twice as many as a decade earlier, according to the U.S. Justice Department.” ("Elderly inmates swell," 2004)  Elderly inmates today are costing about three times as much as the average prisoner cost.  Health care for inmates are the reason why costs for elderly inmates have increased.  
            Most prisons that had an increase in elderly inside of their prisons do not have the rooms or correct equipment for these types of people.  According to Corrections Today, “A recent survey of 41 states and the U.S. Bureau of Prisons by Corrections Today found there were almost 125,000 inmates 50 or older, but fewer than 10,000 beds in facilities dedicated to older inmates.” (Green, 2009)  There are only a few amount of elderly accessible beds this can cause a big problem inside the prisons.  This could mean most of the elderly people inside prison are not being treated with proper care for their needs.  This could make them have a better chance they could possibly become injured.  Injury could be cause because they have to sleep on the top of a bunk instead of the bottom in which they could fall off and cause physical harm to themselves or others.  If they were to fall off their bunk who knows what could happen to them, they could possible break bones in their bodies or cause internal harm.  If that happens the costs of elderly could keep increasing at a terrific rate.  Most prisons do not have enough staff to help keep the elderly prisoners population under control.  Also prisons are not able to have programs for these individuals. 

            Elderly prisoners are costing on average triple the amount of an average prison inmate.  The health care expenses for an average elderly inmate are costing around $70,000 a year to house them.  According to USA Today, “In the past five years, Florida's prison population has grown about 17% while medical costs have jumped nearly 26% to more than $280 million, in part because of heart disease, cancer and other ailments more common in older inmates.” ("Elderly inmates swell," 2004)  People today are living a longer life inside and outside of prisons which is costing a lot of money to house elderly inmates.  Prisons cannot just let all the elderly be free; some of them are serving a life sentence for murder.  There is no way they could all just be set free.  If they were to be set free they might have no family relationships, no home, and no work.  There would just be no way for them to be able to survivor in the society today after spending such a long time behind bars.  Most of them would be too ill and too old to even be able to get a job.
            According to ACLU, “The American Civil Liberties Union today hailed the passage of a bill in the Louisiana legislature making it easier for elderly prisoners to get a parole hearing as an important step towards reducing the state’s unnecessarily high prison population.” ("Aclu hails Louisiana," 2011)  This bill states that prisoners are granted to go before a parole board upon turning 60 years of age.  Since that movement in 2011 it should be a big step in the right direction to help cut costs for state and federal prisons.  If this allow inmates at the age of 60 to be free, they might not have a home or job.  That would cause a big issue on the normal society and could cause a big rush of paroled after 60 years of age to go back into the jails which would just cause more overcrowding when they are already crowded.  The article claimed that only 0.3% will commit crimes again. This means if they are allowed to get out because they are costing too much money doesn’t necessarily mean they will not end back into prison.  According to National Academies Press, “The closing of large state mental institutions, prisons have effectively become the new mental illness asylums. Prisoners suffer higher rates of communicable diseases, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) and hepatitis, than the general population, and chronic diseases such as diabetes are on the rise, especially among the growing older population of prisoners.”("Today’s prisoners: Changing," 2007) The elderly prison population seems to just be never ending.

                                                                   Works Cited
Today’s prisoners: Changing demographics, health issues, and the current research environment. (2007). Retrieved from
Elderly inmates swell prisons, driving up health care costs. (2004, February 28). Retrieved from
Aclu hails louisiana legislature for passing bill aimed at reducing elderly prisoner population. (2011, June 20). Retrieved from
Green, F. (2009, January 04). Expenses higher for geriatric prisoners. Retrieved from

1 comment:

  1. That is amazing that the rate of expense has gone up so much. It is true though, people are living longer now than they have before so it makes sense that it is costing the system money. Issues like these are hard to solve. Like the author said, you cannot just free all of them. They are old, sick, and plus they probably have not been in the real world for a long time. The idea of making sure these inmates have a chance at parole is probably a positive thing. A lot of people in prison are not there for violent crimes so maybe we can get some of the non violent elderly on their way before they become ill within the system.