Should the imprisoned elderly be released under paroled supervision to finish their lives outside prison bars?

Should the imprisoned elderly be released under paroled supervision to finish their lives outside prison bars?

According to Human Rights Watch, 26,600 men and women aged 65 years and older are imprisoned in the United States state and federal prisons. And 100,000 prisoners are between 55 to 64 years old.

With states trying to reduce prison costs and overcrowding, why shouldn’t the elderly be released? It would save states tons of money. And yes, I sympathize with the fact that those who committed heinous crimes (like rape and/or murder etc) should be punished and spend the rest of their lives in jail. But, at the same time, prisons are OVERCROWDED and we do need to CUT COSTS in prisons. And this would be a good place to start.

Maybe prisons could release majority of the prisoners. But then the question arises: where should the line be drawn? Who should be released and who should remain? If anything, I think a good place to start would be those who committed heinous crimes (like murder and/or rape) and are serving life sentences should remain. But I do not advocate that. Choosing who should die in prison is not fair and the crimes they committed should not be the sole reason they remain in prison (although justice should be served). But, they spent their life in jail. So I think that, as long as they do not pose a threat to society, we should let them spend what little time they have left outside prison bars. I am sure they will not committing any more crimes from their wheelchair or bed.

According to the article:

The latest recidivism data from New York shows that only eight of the 152 men and women age 65 and older released in 2006 were returned to prison because of a new felony conviction within three years (the standard period for measuring recidivism).

By comparison, 515 of the 4,387 prisoners released at ages 25-39 returned to prison because of new felony convictions.

Not only are they not as likely to be convicted of new felonies, but they also have tons of medical costs, which bears a burden on state funds.

According to the article, “prison medical costs — borne entirely by the state — are up to nine times higher for older prisoners than for younger ones.”

Releasing elderly prisoners from jail into the “real world” under parole supervision could seriously alleviate prison costs and remedy the overcrowding problem.



About Haley Behre

I graduated from Syracuse University in December 2011 with majors in newspaper journalism and women and gender studies. Using these majors, I aspire to become a journalist who writes about human rights issues. I have held internships at the Syracuse New Times, Dash Media PR Firm, Syracuse Post-Standard and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. I also had an internship at the Not For Sale Campaign Syracuse chapter, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. I was born in Seoul, Korea on September 30, 1990 and moved to the United States before I was one year old. When I was 8, my family and I moved to Norwich, England for three years. While I was here I was immersed into a new culture and got to experience many things other children my age do not get to. Over the three years, I visited Ireland, France and the Netherlands several times, and Belgium, Wales and Sweden once. In the winter of 2010, I got an amazing opportunity to visit Kenya for a month. This was by far the single most eye-opening experience of my life thus far. The natural beauty of the landscape and its people do not compare to anything I have seen. I currently intern for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press in the hopes of getting a full-time job at a newspaper or non-profit after.
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