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.
Posted on September 24, 2008 by jslipke