Friday, January 27, 2012

"Old Behind Bars"

From a Human Rights Watch press release:
Aging men and women are the most rapidly growing group in US prisons, and prison officials are hard-pressed to provide them appropriate housing and medical care, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Because of their higher rates of illness and impairments, older prisoners incur medical costs that are three to nine times as high as those for younger prisoners.

The 104-page report, “Old Behind Bars: The Aging Prison Population in the United States,” includes new data Human Rights Watch developed from a variety of federal and state sources that document dramatic increases in the number of older US prisoners.

Human Rights Watch found that the number of sentenced state and federal prisoners age 65 or older grew at 94 times the rate of the overall prison population between 2007 and 2010. The number of sentenced prisoners age 55 or older grew at six times the rate of the overall prison population between 1995 and 2010.

“Prisons were never designed to be geriatric facilities,” said Jamie Fellner, senior adviser to the US Program at Human Rights Watch and author of the report. “Yet US corrections officials now operate old age homes behind bars.”

Long sentences mean that many current prisoners will not leave prison until they become extremely old, if at all. Human Rights Watch found that almost 1 in 10 state prisoners (9.6 percent) is serving a life sentence. An additional 11.2 percent have sentences longer than 20 years.
A Texas-based fact-bite from the report: "In Texas, although elderly inmates represent only 5.4 percent of the inmate population, they account for more than 25 percent of hospitalization costs. The healthcare cost per day in fiscal year 2005 for an elderly offender was $26, compared to $7 per day for the average offender.[180] In fiscal year 2010, the state paid $4,853 per elderly offender for healthcare compared to $795 for inmates under 55.[181]"


Anonymous said...

For an additional deterrent there should be a dollar threshold amount for healthcare for each prisoner over a certain age which when exceeded causes the prisoner to be put on a list for euthanasia. Might help them try to stay well in prison.

sunray's wench said...

Anon - sometimes I do fear for the state of Texas and America as a whole when I see comments like yours. When are you going to get it, prison is not a deterrant, it is a means of dealing with those who cannot stay within societies' rules. If it were an effective deterrant, then no one would be sitting on Death Row.

If society decides it needs to imprison the elderly, then it has a moral obligation to ensure that the conditions it imprisons them in are suitable for elderly people.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

I believe 4:00 anon was speaking with tongue firmly implanted in cheek. You were of course right to show your righteous indignation at the thought that someone would actually do something like that but rest assures I'm sure he wasn't speaking literally but using a little literary license to make a point. It does however give one pause to be concerned at our Lege and how they will handle said issue in the near future. I am 58 years old and suddenly I am so unsure of my life.

Lee said...

So the question becomes then, Which is cheaper? for the worst of our offenders is it the death penalty or life without the possiblity of parole?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you are an idiot. It's bad enough that a lot of the prison guards hurt these elderly, but you want them to be God also.
You must not have anyone in prison,
I do. Euthanasia! Sentences should not be so long. I don't understand why some judges send Capital cases to prison for 20 years and another for 30 years. All inmates should get good time credit. There is no incentive.
Have you ever seen the food they get? I wouldn't feed it to my dog. The medical dept is a laugh also, you have to beg to see the Dr, then you get there the Dr isn't around, you see an LVN if your lucky, and they decide if you see the Dr... Another thing, if the inmates are on a Medical restriction (Hept) they are put to work in the kitchen, because someone lifts the restriction. The
inmates are at the mercy of the Prison itself, they are to blame for most illness, inmates don't get proper medical care and with the dog food they feed inmates, there is no question who needs Euthanasia. I could go on for hours

Anonymous said...

There should be standard sentences for the crimes. Like for the same crime everyone should get the same amount of prison time. Not one gets probation and the other gets 20 years or even 4 years versus 10 years. As far as the euthanasia goes I bet there are many who would do this if they could get away with this and the first thing that comes to mind in the Gatesville Gulag.

sunray's wench said...

Cowboy ~ if there weren't so many cowards, I mean Anons, then it would be easier to at least link comments to individual posting habits. As it stands, you have to take each Anon on the words they type, and this one advocates euthanasia (in a state where this is currently illegal unless one is sentenced to the death penalty).

Poetic licence or not, once they have killed all inmates over a certain age, what then? I don't find the concept funny in the slightest.

Phillip Baker said...

Anon 10:43 hits the nail right on he head. We over-sentence! Every judge and DA in the state- plus most of the citizens- equate long sentences with "justice". They have no clue how long 20 years really is nor ever really think about it. Other industrialized nations hand down far, far shorter sentences, yet they are not overrun by crazed criminals. The sentencing problem is caused by mandatory uniform sentences! Judges should be able to use their JUDGEment about each case, because each is different. The real problem is that we Americans have been sold this bill of goods about "tuff on crime" and the need for long sentences. And then those same people gripe about the cost of running those prisons they have let be stuffed with non-violent offenders who could be punished at far less cost without incarceration. It is sad that common sense an compassion are not the driving forces behind the move to reduce prison populations. Money is.

RSO wife said...

Amen and Amen. Punishments don't fit the crimes any more, they fit the political climate, and "tough on Crime" gets votes. If the prison conditions were better i.e. putting AC in prisons for the 110 degree heat and heat for the 30 degree cold, plus healthier food (just where are the vegetables anyway and is ketchup really a vegetable?), the prison population wouldn't have as many health problems. Men who sit around all day with nothing constructive to do and no exercise plus a pasta diet will end up needing health care. Who are we really punishing anyway and why????

Cowboy, I don't believe that Anon 4:00 was speaking with tongue in cheek but with his head up his you know what.

I agree with sun ray's wench, the anonymous writers are just to chicken to add their names to anything. They are really good at spouting off, but too much of a coward to let people know who they are.

Crain Watcher said...

I agree where are the fresh vegetable at? I have been told the employees take them home when harvested at the Crain Unit. How can the Unit Lane Murray serve fresh vegetables and salads and the Crain Unit cannot? Must be the broken people running the Crain Unit. If an outside investigation was to ever take place on this unit no telling what would be found especially on a Unit that is now famous for infecting the inmates with gonorrhea and handcuffing women to shower heads in locked showers.