Effects of Aging in Prison

Topics: Prison, Penology, Corrections Pages: 19 (5208 words) Published: May 8, 2013
Effects of Aging in Prison
Wanda W. Jones
Webster University

Table of Contents
Aging in Prison Literature Review4
Survey and Data Collection Tool15
Data Collection Method18
Institutional Review Board23
Peer Review24

This research proposal will be on the aging prison population. The topic to be explored will be the impact of the elderly in prison on society. It will attempt to understand why aging in prison has become such a hot topic for discussion. Some of the topics being discussed include housing, healthcare, hospice and re-entry into society. The study will review why there are so many aging prisoners and the impact it is having on the aged prisoners, the correctional system and society at large. A review of male and female elderly prisoners will be discussed. A more thorough analysis will be on the reasons for the boom in the aging prison population which may include sentencing laws; parole; repeat offenders; nature of crime (property, person, violent or non-violent); increased life expectancy and mental illness among others that may be discovered. In addition a review would be done on how prisoners feel about aging in prison, does it bring a sense of remorse, missed opportunities on life, and even the thoughts of dying in prison. The challenges of compassionate release among aged prisoners that are really too ill to cause any additional threat to society, effects physicians, prison personnel, the public and the elderly offenders themselves in trying to balance the needs of the inmates and the cost of incarceration.

Aging in Prison
The fastest growing population in prisons today is older inmates, classified as 50 years of age or older (Allen, Phillips, Roff, Cavanaugh, & Day, 2008). An inmate is typically considered elderly at 50 years old, primarly because they are generally “10-11.5 years older physiologically [than] they are chronologically” (Thivierge-Rikard & Thompson, 2007). Poor health in inmates are contributed to abuses of alcohol and drugs, inadequate diet, and lack of proper health care (Thivierge-Rikard & Thompson, 2007). “There are three times as many prisoners in federal and state correctional facilities in 2001 as there was in 1990” (Allen, Phillips, Roff, Cavanaugh, & Day, 2008). There are three historical trends that have caused a growth in the prison population; the overall population is aging, a crackdown on crime after the Vietnam War and the building of more prisons to house more inmates (Thivierge-Rikard & Thompson, 2007). It is estimated that “for the year of 2020 the elderly inmate population [will be] at 21-33% of the total United States prison population” (Thivierge-Rikard & Thompson, 2007). The change from rehabilitation for criminals to incarceration for crimes following the Vietnam War is seen by the “mandatory sentencing, ‘three-strike’ sentencing laws, and various ‘get tough’ crime policies at both the state and federal levels” (Thivierge-Rikard & Thompson, 2007). These longer prison terms and decreased parole practices, can be seen “From 1970 to 1997, the number of inmates paroled decreased to 42%, and the number of prisions increased from 1,287 in 1990 to 1,500 by 1995. As of 2000, there were 1,668 state, federal, and private correctional facilites in the United States” (Thivierge-Rikard & Thompson, 2007). The aging prison population growth is more prevalent on the state level than the federal level (Thivierge-Rikard & Thompson, 2007). During the years 1996 to 1998, prisoners 55 years old and older rose, “55% among males and 50% among females” (Collins & Bird, 2007). The increase of female offenders has soared over the last thirty years. “In 1977, the United States imprisoned 24 male prisoners for every female inmate. By 2007, the rate fell to 13 men to every woman” (Johnson & Brooks,...

References: Allen, R. S., Phillips, L. L., Roff, L. L., Cavanaugh, R., & Day, L. (2008). Religiousness/Spirituality and Mental Health Among Older Male Inmates. Gerontologist, 48(5), 692-697.
Collins, D. R., & Bird, R. (2007). The Penitentiary visit - a new role for geriatricians? Age and Ageing, 36(1), 11-13. doi:10.1093/ageing/afl144
Dayron, D., Aday, R
Johnson, R., & Brooks, A. (2011). Cold Comfort: Women Aging in Prison. The Gerontologist, 51(6), 884-887. doi:10.1093/geront/gnr114
Thivierge-Rikard, R
Williams, B. A., Sudore, R. L., Greifinger, R., & Morrison, R. S. (2011). Balancing Punishment and Compassion for Seriously Ill Prisoners. Annal of Internal Medicine, 155(2), 122-W44.
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