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August 16, 2010

"Aging inmates straining prison systems"

The title of this post is the headline of this effective new AP article. Here is how the piece starts:

Curtis Ballard rides a motorized wheelchair around his prison ward, which happens to be the new assisted living unit — a place of many windows and no visible steel bars — at Washington's Coyote Ridge Corrections Center.  A stroke left Ballard unable to walk. He's also had a heart attack and he underwent a procedure to remove skin cancer from his neck. At 77, he's been in prison since 1993 for murder.  He has 14 years left on his sentence.

Ballard is among the national surge in elderly inmates whose medical expenses are straining cash-strapped states and have officials looking for solutions, including early release, some possibly to nursing homes.  Ballard says he's fine where he is. "I'd be a burden on my kids," said the native Texan. "I'd rather be a burden to these people."

That burden is becoming greater as the American Civil Liberties Union estimates that elderly prisoners — the fastest growing segment of the prison population, largely because of tough sentencing laws — are three times more expensive to incarcerate than younger inmates.  The ACLU estimates that it costs about $72,000 to house an elderly inmate for a year, compared to $24,000 for a younger prisoner.

The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that the number of men and women in state and federal prisons age 55 and older grew 76 percent between 1999 and 2008, the latest year available, from 43,300 to 76,400.  The growth of the entire prison population grew only 18 percent in that period.

August 16, 2010 at 06:07 PM | Permalink

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Comments

The taxpayers would get stuck with the bill whether these people were inside prison or outside.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 16, 2010 8:47:38 PM

"Ballard says he's fine where he is. 'I'd be a burden on my kids,' said the native Texan. 'I'd rather be a burden to these people.'"

How magnanimous of him. I'd rather he wasn't a burden at all, but since he has no intention of being anything but, and we have decided that the leeches of society, and their medical care, are our collective responsibility, I can live with where he is as well.

Posted by: David Boyd | Aug 16, 2010 9:16:22 PM

Because ObamaCAre is cheap care, test it on the prisoners first. They may sue for its human rights violations.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 16, 2010 10:54:55 PM

It should also be mentioned that Curtis Ballard murdered his wife and adult daughter. Therefore, he should die in prison.

Posted by: Brian | Aug 16, 2010 11:05:46 PM

Bill;

One of our legislators who is as conservative as you are determined that it would cost the taxpayers less money if they moved terminally ill lifers to a nursing home outside the prison.
His plan was voted down by a nearly unanimous vote. Lifers are supposed to die in prison and the other members of the legislature did not care if it cost more to have terminal care inside the prison.

I don't think the cost savings argument has much suction.

Posted by: John Neff | Aug 17, 2010 8:10:00 AM

I don't think the cost savings argument has much suction.

Actually, it does. States have been working furiously to adjust their criminal codes, so that they will send fewer people to prison. Unlike the Federal government, states can’t just print more money.

But what the states aren’t doing is freeing convicted murderers, like this guy. The focus is mainly on non-violent offenders.

Posted by: Marc Shepherd | Aug 17, 2010 9:23:05 AM

With the 'new rage' for LWOP , we should be seeing and paying for much more of this, hmmm?

Posted by: Throsso | Aug 17, 2010 11:55:36 AM

Clearly, some who post here are mercy challenged.

Posted by: John K | Aug 17, 2010 6:51:31 PM

"Clearly, some who post here are mercy challenged. "

Someone who murders his wife and wife's daughter should not expect mercy or should recieve mercy.

Posted by: Brian | Aug 17, 2010 7:42:28 PM

Clearly you're right, Brian. We should continue punishing stroke victims in wheelchairs until they draw their very last breath.

Posted by: John K | Aug 17, 2010 9:56:47 PM

"We should continue punishing stroke victims in wheelchairs until they draw their very last breath."

When the commit cold blooded murder, yes.

Posted by: brian | Aug 18, 2010 8:33:46 AM

John K --

The problem is that you want NOTHING BUT mercy, which is your euphemism for absence of accountability and a free (or highly discounted) pass for every killer, rapist, hoodlum and swindler out there. It wouldn't (and hasn't) mattered to you if the prisoner has an illness, doesn't have one, or is faking one (like the Lockerbie bomber who was released on the pretext that he was going to die of cancer in three months or less)(he was actually released to grease the skids for an oil deal and is living merrily in Libya).

What you seem never to see is that there are malevolent, sadistic and/or greedy people out there who DESERVE a punitive response.

"Mercy" with no justice is a straight path to having bullies run rampant. At some level, I'm sure you know this.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 19, 2010 9:35:54 AM

euphemism for absence of accountability and a free (or highly discounted) pass for every killer, rapist, hoodlum and swindler out there. It wouldn't (and hasn't) mattered to you if the prisoner

Posted by: power balance | Sep 10, 2010 11:22:06 PM

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