Friday, April 3, 2015

The Elderly Prisoner Population Is Soaring, and So Are Its Costs

...“geriatric gangsters” raise an important issue—the rapidly growing elderly prisoner population, and the exploding costs of caring for them behind bars. With advanced age inevitably comes chronic health conditions, prescription drug needs, and both physical and mental disabilities. None of which come cheap.

"Releasing this low-risk prison population to spend their final years at home, and not in a state-supported prison serving as a de facto nursing home, would save taxpayers up to $40 million a year."

From 1992 to 2012, the population of prisoners who are 55 and older has increased by 550 percent. According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch study, the number of federal and state prisoners 65 and over increased by 63 percent between 2007 and 2010. (By comparison, the prison population as a whole increased by 0.7 percent over that same period of time.) Elderly prisoners can cost two to three times as much as younger prisoners to incarcerate. And Medicare, which covers the health care costs for tens of millions of people over 65 in the United States, does not cover health care for the tens of thousands of people over 65 and behind bars.

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