Thursday, May 7, 2015

Older Prisoners, Higher Costs

A tough, new report says it’s time for federal prisons to release the elderly and infirm.

The Justice Department on Tuesday bluntly issued yet another public call to the Bureau of Prisons to quicken the pace of its efforts to release more elderly and infirm inmates from federal custody.
In an extensive report that criticized federal prison officials, the DOJ’s Inspector General confirmed several stark positions it has staked out consistently in the past few years: that the costs of holding elderly inmates is extraordinarily high and getting higher, that prison officials often don’t or can’t do an adequate job of caring for those inmates, and that new policies designed to expedite the release of inmates at low risk of recidivism have markedly failed to do so.
UPDATE:  After we posted this piece Wednesday afternoon, a Justice Department spokesman sent us a statement which included the following information updated from the Inspector General's report:
"Since August 2013 when former Attorney General Holder announced the Department’s expanded compassionate release program, 138 inmates have benefitted from this program – a marked increase from 2012 and 2011, when only 39 and 29 inmates were approved to be released under this authority, respectively.
The [OIG] report states that only 2 elderly inmates without medical conditions have been released between August 12, 2013 and September 12, 2014. From August 12, 2013 to the present date, 18 elderly inmates without medical conditions have been released."

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