Since 1996, photographer Ron Levine has been taking photos of and conducting interviews with elderly prisoners and corrections personnel throughout the United States and Canada.
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. Using that definition, the ACLU found there were approximately 246,600 elderly prisoners behind bars in the United States as of 2012 – and they comprise the fastest growing age group among inmates.
"Prisoners of Age" offers a microcosmic glimpse of what lies ahead. Existing prison space is in serious decline; bunk space and medical costs are soaring. According to the ACLU, the average expense of medical care and maintenance for inmates over 50 is $68,270 per year – twice that of an average prisoner, and the people who manage North America's prison system are increasingly worried about how to handle the geriatric population. Statistically, the risk of recidivism decreases significantly with age, with very few elderly parolees ever returning to prison for committing crimes again, yet the number of older people in prisons continues to boom.