At least three days a week I walk across the yard at the women’s prison in Lowell, Florida. I never cease to be amazed at the growing number of elderly and wheel chair bound inmates.
I have known more than a couple that have died of old age in prison and never cease to be dumbfounded as to why. Why are they still here when obviously they present no threat to anyone. To transfer them to a private or public non-correctional institution.
Have also seen a tremendous number of males at Union CI in like situation. There is a point at which they reach where they are not only harmless but become a detriment to the system.
Corrections are not designed to accommodate the cripple and aged. The very nature of their infirmities require special attention. I have seen cases where they have screwed up counts by not being able to move. they create chaos in the dorm and the yard when they are suffering with bouts of dementia and Alzheimer’s. They also require increased correctional supervision. That means both medical and correctional staffing. When they get into a hospice situation, again the cost goes up.
Conversations that I have had with some is that they set themselves up with such sentences after having spent so many years in prisons. Mandatory minimums made their sentences’ longer and plea bargains kept them from going to court. As they look back, they see that more often than not the case was spurious but the alternative to loosing and getting more time was not a viable option.
It is a slippery sloop that once you go to prison, it is easy to get caught up in the revolving door when the re-entry process is loaded with traps. As I have see it, education and addictions are the two most dominant reasons for a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem that keep them from getting to first base in the re-entry process.
It seems as if that once they reach a point, life in prison is all they know and not all that bad compared to their experiences in the real world.
Here are a few quotes from an article on the aging prison population that are not all that surprising to me but may be to those that do not deal with prisons on a regular basis.
“…The complications in handling the swelling number of aging prisoners range from making allowances for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia and finding sufficient ground-floor cells for inmates in wheelchairs to ensuring that older prisoners are not exploited or robbed by younger inmates. …”
“…State or federal prisons now hold about 26,200 people 65 and older, and about 124,000 inmates older than 55, the report said. The number of incarcerated people older than 55 has grown at a rate six times that of the rest of the prison population….”
“….Kincaid said that as the prison population had aged, so had the incidence of chronic diseases among inmates, including hypertension and diabetes. And because the state has only three hospitals for prisoners — about 120 beds — it must contract with private operators for inpatient care. The cost of a hospitalized inmate in such a facility is about $850,000 a year…”
“…In Michigan, the annual cost of health care for the average inmate was $5,800, according to the study, a figure that increased to $11,000 for prisoners age 55 to 59. The cost spiraled to $40,000 a year for inmates 80 years and older….”
Follow the link for the full article: Going gray behind bars, and costing more to treat