Aging in Prison for the Elderly and Terminally Ill
Dealing with an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s and having a brother that passed away in prison from a terminal illness, has made me pay more attention to articles and information about people in prison that are elderly and terminally ill. With longer sentences, people are spending more of their life in prison. How are we taking care of our loved ones in prison and are they getting the assistance and medicine they need?
The Nation Reports in an article by Michelle Chen, “Our Prison Population Is Getting Older and Older“:
By 2030, an estimated one in three people in federal or state prisons will be aged 55 or older—more than triple the proportion in the early 1990s. A survey of 42 state prison systems shows a spike in the elderly prison population by about one-third between 2007 and 2011.
My brother passed away in prison in June, six years ago. I didn’t know he had a terminal illness at the time, and I’ll never know if he received all of the care he needed. I do know that he was in the infirmary and they were making arrangements for me to visit him there, but he passed before I could get there. If I had known sooner, could I have brought him home? I’ll never know. The Assistant Warden did call me and provided me with information to make the arrangements. You can read more about it here: https://prisonfamiliesalliance.org/helpful-information/brother-died-prison/
House Bill 138 in Louisiana recently took effect to allow elderly inmates to apply to be released to family: Louisiana: House Bill 138 . FAMM (Families Against Mandatory Minimums) also advocates for early release of the elderly: https://famm.org/our-work/u-s-congress/early-release-programs-elderly-prisoners/
In California, Sammy Caiola of Capital Public Radio, reports on a prison garden for hospice and terminally ill inmates that offers a quiet place for them to rest and reflect while serving their sentence: http://www.capradio.org/articles/2018/06/25/california-prisons-new-hospice-garden-offers-dying-inmates-rare-chance-to-reflect/
The Federal Bureau of Prisons released a report in May of 2018 that provides charts and information about the age range of inmates and the growth of the elderly population: https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_age.jsp
Aging in prison is a growing concern to those on the outside and the more we know about it, the better we’ll be able to deal with it if it happens to our loved one or someone we know.