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Commentary on Age Segregation for Older Prisoners: Philosophical and Pragmatic Considerations for Correctional Systems

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Review Volume: 34 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2009 Pages: 119-139
John J. Kerbs; Jennifer M. Jolley
Date Published
March 2009
21 pages
This article aims to provide a rationale for age segregation for older prisoners that are qualified by a summary of considerations that are often raised against age segregation.
An argument in favor of segregation for older inmates comes to rest on two important premises. First, the purpose of incarceration should be one framed by a philosophy of rehabilitation for all inmates. Second, older inmates should be viewed as equally deserving of rehabilitative correctional environments. Research shows that older inmates are vulnerable, and they have little social status within a violent prison order coupled with a diminishing physical fortitude. With the increasing number of older prisoners in State and Federal prisons, research has focused on the potential benefits of age-segregated living arrangements for older inmates. A multidisciplinary literature review clarifies a four-point rationale for age-segregated prisons: (1) cost savings via centralized health care for older prisoners; (2) the reduction of civil liabilities for correctional systems that centralize disability services as per requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990; (3) the advancement of prisoner safety for older inmates; and (4) the promotion of rehabilitation by advancing treatment opportunities with a group that is most likely to desist from future criminal activity due, in part, to age related desistance from crime. Tables, references