As the number of those incarcerated in America increases, so too does the demographic of those in prison who are aging.
Aging inmates — defined as starting anywhere from 50 to 65, depending on the state — make up the largest and fastest-growing segment of the American prison population, reports the New York Times in a recent opinion article. Between 1995 and 2010, the number of inmates older than 55 nearly quadrupled; they are expected to account for a third of all prisoners by 2030.
And overall, about 1,574,700 people were in prison at the end of 2013, up 4,300 from 2012.
Releasing older prisoners could be a key way to reduce the prison population, the New York Times says.
“Letting them out early makes sense for two reasons,” the New York Times says. “First, they are far and away the most expensive inmates to house, costing at least twice as much as younger inmates, $16 billion per year over all. This is because the elderly have more significant medical needs — from broken bodies to failing minds — and because prisons are not designed to be old-age homes.”
In addition, older inmates are the least likely to reoffend, data show.
Yet few seniors are released — even if they have exhibited good behavior for years, the New York Times says, pointing to disjointed parole boards and an overall lack of prison regulation reform.
Read the full article here.
Written by Cassandra Dowell