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August 17, 2008

Are all states going to need to create old-age prisons?

This article in today's Kansas City Star, headlined "Missouri uses special unit to cope with growing numbers of geriatric inmates," spotlights one way that one state is dealing with an aging prison population.  Here are excerpts:

As states and the federal government struggle to deal with the result of inmates serving more time, corrections experts seek solutions or at least ways to cope. One is the “Old Timer’s Unit” at Moberly Correctional Center.  Burton is one of 22 prisoners there.  The average age is 63.

Kansas provides hospice care at prisons and is building a $6 million clinic at Lansing that will house its sickest male prisoners. Florida has geriatric wings in four prisons. In California’s huge penal system, a federal receiver who oversees prisons recently asked a judge to seize $8 billion from the state to build medical units for sick and mentally ill inmates....

Only 5.24 percent of Missouri inmates were over the age of 50 in 1995, compared with 13.4 percent last year. In Kansas it was 6.1 percent in 1995 and twice that last year....

The Old Timer’s Unit remains the only one of its kind in the state, but that could change, Warden Dean Minor said.  He is on a corrections department task force studying how to handle the aging prisoner problem.  Putting them in a cell alone made obvious sense because some could not climb to a top bunk, he said, and the personal toilet and sink give them privacy. “At that juncture in life,” he said, “privacy becomes more of an issue.”

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August 17, 2008 at 09:35 AM | Permalink

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