UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

April 22, 2009

GROWING OLD BEHIND BARS

James Ridgeway, Unsilent Generation - Brie Williams of the University of California Medical School at San Francisco and Rita Albraldes, an independent researcher, recently completed a study [that] found that the cost for each geriatric inmate came to $70,000 a year. In addition to the chronic diseases that increase with age, these offenders have have problems such as paraplegia because of gunshot wounds, and advanced liver disease, renal disease, hepatitis and HIV from drug and alcohol abuse. Living under prison conditions, they are more likely to get pneumonia and flu.

Many older offenders suffer from serious mental illness–some of it lifelong, and some of it produced by their incarceration. One study revealed depression among male prisoners was 50 percent higher than for those living outside. All in all, 54 percent of older prisoners met standards for psychiatric disorders. Williams and Abraldes write, "In one report from a maximum-security hospital, 75 percent of elderly prisoners were admitted between age 20 and 30 and the majority were schizophrenic." At Angola, the warden reported that 2,000 of over 5,000 inmates were on psychotropic drugs. Many mentally ill prisoners are simply warehoused and fed drugs to keep them under control. Even worse, some are labeled "discipline" problems, and end up in solitary confinement.

Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor and founder of the Project for Older Prisoners, has written extensively about alternatives for aging offenders: for lower risk prisoners, various forms of supervised release, including electronic bracelet monitoring; and for higher risk prisoners, geriatric units, where the cost of better care could be more than balanced by reducing the number of corrections officers. "

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this intended to arouse my sympathy?

April 22, 2009 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt you have anything to arouse, Shorty.

April 22, 2009 11:41 PM  

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