Old Behind Bars

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Jamie Fellner, a Senior Advisor, U.S. Program, Human Rights Watch, talks about the soaring number of aging prisoners. The Human Rights Watch report “Old Behind Bars: The Aging Prison Population in the United States” documents the dramatic increases in the number of older U.S. prisoners and the need for the prison system to adapt.



Jamie Fellner

Comments [10]

Be the Evidence Project

Thank you for this important resource. For those interested stakeholders who want to learn more about the aging prisoner crisis, should go to the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service Be the Evidence Project Website and download the White Paper: Aging Prisoners-A Crisis in Need of Intervention at or request a pdf copy by emailing:

May. 11 2012 12:08 PM
RJ from prospect hts

Another financial factor in comparing costs in community vs. prison, in addition to Medicaid, is community living costs: food, rent, etc., that are probably lumped into general prisoner overhead. So it clearly is quite a complicated calculation.

Feb. 01 2012 12:43 PM
John from River Edge

Is the report limited to public prisons or does it include the growing trend to private owned prison? Does the ownership make a difference on the conditions, etc.

Feb. 01 2012 12:38 PM
anonymous from Manhattan

Not all healthcare systems are created equal. My father was in prison( 3rd offense DUI, non-violent) in Florida when he was diagnosed with cancer. He and van full of other ill inmates were shuttled, in shackles, to the closest health facility every morning to receive treatment. He reported that the radiation machine was broken more often than not. Upon completion of his treatment, he asked his doctor if he was cured. His doctor responded, " You have hands, you can reach down [to your grown] and tell. He was still on my mother's, his wife's, insurance plan and had he been released early( 5 months) would not have incurred the state any extra money and He might have survived. We, of course, sought legal advice on this matter and it was apparently all legal. The State maintained their legal obligation by shuttling these men to a broke-down health facility.

Feb. 01 2012 12:27 PM
anna from eastchester NY

Ms Fellner
Visit the Prison Hospice in Angola, Louisiana?
Is it lawful for other inmates to care for dying
inmates as part of their prison work.

Feb. 01 2012 12:21 PM
Cory from Reality

How much more is it costing us to keep geriatric felons in prison than if they were in assisted living facilities?

Feb. 01 2012 12:20 PM
Richard Johnston from Manhattan upper west side

In Germany prison terms are limited to 25 years. What effect would that have in the US?

Feb. 01 2012 12:16 PM
Theresa from Brooklyn

Can Ms Fellner comment on the influence of the prison-industrial complex on sentencing policies?

Feb. 01 2012 12:15 PM

Older people are committing crimes.... From what the guest said, a disproportionately large percentage of the crimes committed by older people are sex crimes. It seems unlikely that the psychology of over-50s is changing, so perhaps reporting is changing or perhaps social factors are changing. Are older people acting out in a context of miserable economic conditions? We know that violence at home increases in bad economic times.

The blunt fact is that Democrats and Republicans have largely allied to attack institutions that provided older Americans some sense of safety in retirement. Now retiring at all — ever — is being challenged. Medical and financial institutions are under attack. Desperation must be growing. Not a _justification_ but perhaps part of an _explanation_.

Feb. 01 2012 12:15 PM
Shannon from UWS

What is healthcare like for these people in prison?

What influence do private prisons have on the sentencing?

Feb. 01 2012 12:13 PM

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