Articles regarding elderly inmates

In reading the articles on aging prison populations I was not surprised to see that average cost per elderly inmate was around $67,000 annually, which is about three times the cost of a younger prisoner. I was surprised however, when I realized after reading that inmates do not qualify for Medicare or Medicaid thus placing the burden on state taxpayers. As mentioned in one of the articles concerning the growing number of elderly inmates to younger ones, it seems are spending is soaring to maintain a geriatric prison population that is less then likely to recidivate and is essentially diverting attention from younger more efficient and active criminals. Due to the overpopulation in some prisons, capacity to maintain newer criminals is becoming an exacerbating issue not only for the state but for general well being in society. I personally would rather parole an elderly inmate who runs up costs for the state then to let a younger criminal roam free because of lack of space. Another interesting point during the reading were the findings that many elderly inmates suffer physiological aging problems that are 10 years older than their chronological age. This is just another example to me of the rigors prison life must have on an individual. The reduction in sensory skills, increase in dementia, anxiety, depression, and paranoia in elderly inmates make it plausible to assume that incarceration acts counterproductively. If these inmates are becoming psychologically and physically impaired as the years in sentence continue then new measures need to be pursued to combat this because as a tax payer I would feel more comfortable knowing my tax dollars are contributing to a cause that isn’t a foregone conclusion like elderly inmate mental illness.

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One Response

  1. There is an interesting moral debate here though, If people believe as many people do that health care if a human right / moral issue and not a political or social issue then what I took from the readings is that many of the very sick elderly inmates may be better off in prison because even though it costs us more, if released, these elderly people may not receive any healthcare because they do not qualify for medicare or medicaid and most likely cannot afford to pay for healthcare. In prison however they have a right to be taken care of and even though it may not be quality healthcare they are still receiving some treatment. I agree these inmates are at low risk to recidivate but if released then we would have a population of elderly, poor, sick people who are not able to receive federal assistance, that sounds to me like a great burden for society.

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