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America's Aging Prison Population: Issues & Alternatives

NCJ Number
Offender Programs Report Volume: 5 Issue: 2 Dated: July/August 2001 Pages: 17-18,25-26,27
Brian Shapiro
Date Published
5 pages
This article reviews the issue of America's aging prison population.
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (1992), people aged 65 years and older represent the fastest growing segment in population growth. Because prisons are a microcosm of society, the Nation's demographic changes have begun to affect the criminal justice system, particularly prisons and jails. The expanding geriatric inmate population will soon be the largest single population group in confinement. In light of this development, the article suggests, corrections systems should in the very near future: (1) begin the systematic development and maintenance of baseline data on the elderly offender to facilitate needs assessment, legal compliance, and planning; (2) modify classification systems to facilitate mainstreaming of the elderly if consistent with their physical and mental health needs and with institutional and inmate safety; (3) adapt and modify institutions to ensure equitable treatment of the old and the young; (4) adapt and modify work and educational programs to include components geared toward the special needs of the elderly; and (5) establish special geriatric units for older inmates requiring special care. References


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