Aging Prisoners – Issues and Solutions

Aging is inevitable process in any society. Aging people need special care and require additional resources to support their wellbeing. In a developed society, government treats elderly people with respect and there are governmental social programs to protect the rights of this social stratum. However, aging of prisoners is one of the major problems of correctional facilities these days due to the increasing number of inmates requiring special care. It is a common problem for many countries worldwide. The research states that many developed countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, Australia, Japan, France, and others experience almost identical problems related to the aging of prison population.

The main dilemma is as follows. Modern penitentiary system faces such striking problem as overcrowding. The reason is that some percent of prisoners got sentences for life, substantial sentences, or committed crimes when they were already aged. They get older and require additional attention, various geriatric units, and similar activities. The budgets of prisoners are tight; therefore, policy makers have to decide what to do with such prisoners, either to release them or keep in custody. The problem is clear since there is no adequate mechanism that would solve the problem of overcrowding of prisons and aging of prisoners in an effective way.

Considering the above-stated issue, the dilemma is as follows: whether to release aged inmates before the end of their sentences or not. On the one hand, it would solve the overcrowding problem and cut the costs related to the aging prisoners’ special care. On the other hand, it is not appropriate since these people are criminals and government put a lot of money and efforts into the process of imprisonment and punishing them according to the crimes they committed in the past. In other words, it is illogical to release aged criminals after ten years if they have to serve a twenty-five year sentence. The explanation of this dilemma is that there are potential problems these criminal can create after release.

The possible solution of the problem is in the two-stage system of aged prisoners’ care. When a prisoner reaches certain age and starts to address health-related problems to the infirmary, it is necessary to assess his/her current health condition and provide a summary. After that, a specialized board of doctors, representatives of penitentiary system, and law representatives should examine the case of such prisoners and according to the time spent in the prison, the crime committed, and health state, decide whether to parole this inmate or not. However, it cannot work for all criminals due to the severity of the crimes they committed.

In case the board decides not to parole the inmate, it should transfer him/her to the block of special regime for elderly criminals. Such block should have less strict regime, better food, health treatment, and other environmental “releases” that would help aging prisoners spend fewer efforts to stay healthier. Such solution should help to achieve two goals: release inmates that no longer pose threats to society and help penitentiary system to cut the costs for inmates’ care.

The positive impact of the first part of the plan is obvious since prisons will have free cells to have more prisoners of young and middle ages. Therefore, the overcrowding issue will be partially resolved. In addition, it would have positive social image for the law enforcement system since aged inmates look not that dangerous as middle-aged ones, so they seem harmless to the society. As a result, such parole initiatives can improve the image of penitentiary system.

The creation of specialized elderly blocks can mitigate problems related to the healthcare provision within a prison. In certain isolation, aged inmates will have fewer chances to get health-related problems than in case of the blocks for all inmates. In addition, such isolation of the block and its closeness to the infirmary can help to assure timely help in case of emergency. The plan to implement these initiatives is simple – to foster the board creation and isolation/preparation of one of the prison blocks with further allocation of aging prisoners to this block.

Skeptics would say that the plan has certain substantial flaws. First, there is no guarantee that paroled aged prisoners will not commit new crimes as any other paroled criminals. Nevertheless, the responsibility lies entirely on the committee. Second, some might say that the parole procedure of inmates who committed crimes is not an appropriate solution since they broke the law and should receive a due punished. However, one should not consider this as the obstacle in finding a reasonable solution of cutting the costs for inmates’ maintenance. Third, the initiative with a special block for such inmates may become a problem for prisons. The problem is that aged inmates may simulate health-related issues to get to the block in order to have certain relief in the sentence serving; therefore, the committee should review each case. Finally, others may say that it seems inappropriate to provide inmates with special care, even the elderly people because they are criminals; however, all people make mistakes, so they have the right to forgiveness.

The essay was written by the professional writer from college book report format service - Betty Bilton.

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