Monday, June 18, 2012

Elderly prison population soaring

         The American Civil Liberties Union issued a recent report on the incarceration of the elderly.  There are nearly 125,000 inmates aged 55 or older now behind bars. This represents an increase of over 1,300 percent since the early 1980s costing states and the federal government more then $16 billion annually.

        Here are excerpts from the report:

From 1980 to 2010, the United States prison population grew over 11 times faster than the general population. During this time, the general population increased by 36%, while the state and federal prison population increased by over 400%. The number of elderly people in our prisons is growing even faster. The graying prison population has become a national epidemic afflicting states around the country—from California to Missouri to Florida—further burdening already strained state budgets. According to the National Institute of Corrections, prisoners age 50 and older are considered “elderly” or “aging” due to unhealthy conditions prior to and during incarceration. This report uses that definition and finds that that there are 246,600 elderly prisoners behind bars across the country. To the extent possible, this report provides data for prisoners age 50 and older; in a few cases when data for this age group is not readily available, this report provides data on the next closest age range.

In 1981, there were 8,853 state and federal prisoners age 55 and older. Today, that number stands at 124,900, and experts project that by 2030 this number will be over 400,000, amounting to over one-third of prisoners in the United States. In other words, the elderly prison population is expected to increase by 4,400% over this fifty-year time span. This astronomical projection does not even include prisoners ages 50-54, for which data over
time is harder to access. 
To read more:

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