« The great NYC homicide decline continues | Main | After 500 executions, reviewing some last words of the condemned in Texas »

June 29, 2013

"Exploding number of elderly prisoners strains system, taxpayers"

The title of this post is the headline of this lengthy new NBC News piece.  Here are excerpts:

Prisoners older than 55 make up the single fastest-growing segment of the U.S. prison community – a largely invisible shadow population. The number of elderly Americans doing hard time is swelling at a staggering rate and will only continue to balloon, researchers say.

An estimated 246,000 convicts above age 50 were in jail cells across the country last year, according to a June 2012 American Civil Liberties report.

By the year 2030, there will be upward of 400,000 elderly prisoners — nearly a third of the projected total penal population, said Inimai Chettiar, a director at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and the co-author of the ACLU report. “The number of elderly prisoners has absolutely exploded,” Chettiar said, adding that stringent sentencing policies and “overcriminalization” of historically low-priority offenses are to blame....

The expenditures associated with keeping elderly prisoners behind bars puts a significant strain on state and federal resources, with taxpayers bearing most of the burden, said David Fathi, the director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “Incarceration is expensive,” Fathi said. “And incarcerating the elderly is extraordinarily expensive.”

State and federal prisons spend an estimated $16 billion taxpayer dollars a year keeping elderly convicts in the clink, Fathi said. Nearly a quarter of that price tag – roughly $3 billion taxpayer dollars annually – is devoted to providing health care to sick or drying prisoners....

Although most elderly individuals are struck by poor health in their final years, prisoners are generally more predisposed to chronic medical conditions than the average person, which accounts for the great disparity in expenditures, said Tina Maschi, a Fordham University professor who has studied New Jersey’s aging prison population....

Chettiar said that certain conditions common to the elderly – from hearing loss and vision impairment to cardiac issues and dementia – are particularly common in U.S. prisons, slightly exceeding the national diagnostic average. "Prisons exacerbate the health problems that come with age," Chettiar said....

Although the ACLU's Fathi recognized that many older prisoners should not be eligible for an early reprieve, he said that a "cost-benefit analysis" of the exploding elderly prison population demands action. "We can't keep everyone locked up forever," he said.

June 29, 2013 at 09:50 PM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e20192abc6045b970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "Exploding number of elderly prisoners strains system, taxpayers":

Comments

""We can't keep everyone locked up forever,"

Yes we can.

Posted by: conservative | Jun 30, 2013 10:34:21 AM

Interesting, but isn't this the same group of libs who were pushing LWOP as another option instead of the DP?

No one saw that bait and switch coming, did they?

Posted by: TarlsQtr1 | Jun 30, 2013 11:15:28 AM

@conservative:
Fine. Lock everyone up forever. Just make sure everything's paid for.

@TarlsQtr1:
DP only applies to murderers. In addition, murderers only comprise of a minority percentage of LWOP. As usual, just make sure their incarceration is paid for in toto.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Jun 30, 2013 1:55:28 PM

These criminals will be transferred to nursing homes. They will commit massive numbers os ex crimes, assaults, and stealing of drugs, money, supplies against fellow patients and staff. These will generate massive tort litigation not against the criminal, but against the owners of the nursing homes. The prior prison record is knowledge of risk, and induces a duty to protect the staff and residents. Malice (knowledge) will generate exemplary damages. Good scheme for the tort bar, plaintiff and defense.

Prisoners should receive minimal care, and no life prolonging treatments outside of medication. That should be a given like all the other privations that come with prison. So sex changes? No. Give the same consideration the British public receives. Most of the current set of prisoners should have been executed before age 18, but got the protection of the rent seeking lawyer traitor to our nation.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 30, 2013 2:15:15 PM

@Eric

Arrest, give an hour's fair trial, and summarily execute the entire lawyer hierarchy, around 15,000 traitors running the three branches of government. Enact an Amendment banning anyone who has passed 1L from all benches, all legislative seats, and all responsible policy positions in the executive. They are all members of a criminal cult enterprise loyal only to the cult.

When the ultra-violent criminal loses its protectors, kill all of them, preferably at the scene of the crime, immunizing the public for killing a violent criminal.

No more violent crime, including murder. No more large prison population, no more cost of crime.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 30, 2013 5:32:54 PM

S.C. writes "These criminals will be transferred to nursing homes. They will commit massive numbers os ex crimes, assaults, and stealing of drugs, money, supplies against fellow patients and staff."

I disagree. No release to nursing homes!. There they will steal each other's false teeth. And assault each other with their walkers and wheelchairs. And the men will touch the ladies' boobs; and the ladies will do nasty thing with the senile, drooling men. We cannot risk releasing them to nursing homes.

Posted by: conservative1 | Jun 30, 2013 7:35:51 PM

There was an accidental statement of truth in the story. "Many should not be eligible for early release." Yes, we have a graying prison population, but shouldn't we check and see the composition of that graying prison population before stating that overcriminalization is the cause.

I strongly suspect that most of the people over 50 in prison are not there for first time non-violent offenses. Instead, my hunch is that the lion's share falls into two groups: 1) people who committed very violent felonies -- murders, rapes, robberies -- in their twenties and thirties who got appropriately long sentences for those crimes; and 2) career criminals doing their fourth, fifth, sixth, etc, stint in prison because they keep on committing property offenses and drug offenses every time that they get released. Neither of these groups deserve early release.

Posted by: tmm | Jul 1, 2013 9:28:31 AM

my first-time, non-violent offender, non-drug associated spouse--age 50---with fairly severe medical problems, sentenced to 25 years last year. His co-defendant---also first-time, non-violent, non-drug, age 57--even worse medical problems---sentenced last year to 20 years. They are both appealing--- but if fail--they will certainly fall into category of "elderly doing hard time". Both are already serving.

Posted by: folly | Jul 1, 2013 1:21:26 PM

tmm --

Nailed it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 1, 2013 8:53:10 PM

I agree with Otis and tmm who writes that "Neither of these groups deserve early release." These folks should age in prison regardless of their health. Let them lose their teeth, use wheelchairs and walkers, suffer from shortness of breath, heart failure, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's, dementia until well into their 80's and 90's; indeed until they are wheezing and can't recogngize themselves in the mirror and cannot utter a sound. We can use feeding tubes until their very last death rattle After all, in the words of Otis and tmm, " if you can't do the time, don't do the crime." Maybe a little expensive, but protection of the public at any cost is smart public policy, right?

Posted by: onlooker14 | Jul 1, 2013 9:03:18 PM

Onlooker, nobody is saying that medical parole may not be appropriate in some cases. I understand why those who want to cut down on incarceration would try to re-write what I actually said, but it's not accurate.

Saying that the graying of the population is due to overcriminalization does not accurately reflect the practices in most states. Furthermore, turning 50 does not mean that you are old and decrepit and unable to commit crimes.

If you want to make an argument that all murderers should be paroled on their 60th birthday or that it's unfair that we send grandpa to prison for molesting his grandchild because he is too old to do the time, feel free. I myself prefer to look at these cases on an individual basis rather than saying that we need to start releasing older prisoners in large numbers.

Posted by: tmm | Jul 2, 2013 10:12:24 AM

onlooker 14 --

News flash: The pains and indignities of aging happen all by themselves. Being outside prison isn't going to make them go away. They existed way before prison even existed, and will continue to exist with prison or without. You don't know this?

Other news flash: Not that many people make it into their eighties, and still fewer into their nineties, inside prison or outside.

Next news flash: The real reason you oppose imprisonment for old criminals is that you oppose it for any of the rest of them as well. The stuff about aging just gives you another crying towel.

The problem with the list of excuses is that it IS a list. He's too old, too young, too frail, too "vulnerable" (whatever that means du jour), his family needs him too much, he makes too much money (so we need the jobs he creates), he makes too little money (so he never had a chance), etc., ad infinitum.

Better to just say what you mean: They should never have been in prison at all, young, old or in between. Amerika is just such a Big Meanie!

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jul 2, 2013 10:16:39 AM

I know the mentally crippling effects of 1L, turning normal, intelligent, modern students into the lawyer dumbass. So, I will try to be very clear.

Under 123D, with the count starting at 14, no violent criminal would reach his 18th birthday. So there will be no violent crime, no imprisonment, no problem from aging, no problem from crime.

I invite the lawyer dumbass to go to a junior high school, a beach, a concert. Stand close to a 14 year old girl. You see that flawless, superior skin? The internal organs are just like her skin. If you harvest the organs of an adolescent executed prisoner, you will save, on average 8 lives, from the donation. Under Kelo, the organs are presumptively the chattel of the state. No consent need be signed by the deviants that spawned the criminal bastard child. If you also drop the murder rate by 16,000 to its more proper 1,000 a year, you have also saved 2 lives per execution. So the ratio is 10 lives saved per early execution.

The economy will also soar as if launched from a sling shot when you end crime by ending the violent criminals.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 3, 2013 11:25:35 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB