A number of states in the U. S. expressed alarm over the inescapable fact that in their effort to rid society of undesirable and lawless elements, their jails and prisons became jam- 15 packed. Feeding and housing these inmates especially the aging offenders cost them a lot more, sacrificing their budget for education. The affected states realize the generally accepted fact that education should be more financially supported than prisoners as this is the proven most effective way to raise a new generation of responsible and law abiding citizens. West Virginia reported that prison population in this state exceeded the national average
owing to its 9. 3% incarceration which is the highest among the U. S. states. The grassrootleadership. org (n. d. ) non-profit organization reported that between 1994 and 2004, the inmate population in West Virginia increased from 2,392 to 5,032 or 110% increase. The non-profit organization reported that the state projected that by 2012, the inmate population will increase by 35% over that of 2004 level or a total of 6,774 inmates to feed and maintain. Although the increasing population of aging inmates is not mentioned, common sense will tell that the population is included since most of the aging population is
sentenced to anguish in prisons for life. The state government in order to cope up with the unprecedented increase, spent $100 million to build new prisons. The organization further reported that in the last 10 years, the Division of Corrections of West Virginia tripled its expenditure. With this effect, the state has increased spending for inmates five times the amount for higher education and other social services. In absolute figures, according to grassrootleadership. org, the state of West Virginia appropriated $6,435 per full time college student and $19, 377 per person incarcerated by DOC.
Inflation adjusted, the amount per college student is 33% higher than in 1994 while the amount per inmate increased 169% or five times the amount per student The grassrootleadership. org reported that West Virginia government consider the very strict policy of the state regarding sentencing and parole as the cause of this surge in inmate population. To minimize this effect, the state consider “Implementing a cap on the number of people incarcerated [….. ], along with re-examining sentencing and parole policies in the state that can lead to an end of the soaring number of 16 incarcerations.
A thorough re-examination of the recent parole policy of the state is in order” (grassrootleadership. org, n. d. , conclusion, 2nd par. ). In addition to this strategy, the Day Report Center alternative which set aside incarceration for misdemeanor crimes in favor of community service, home incarceration and boards created for reparation is also put in place. A saving of about $ 42-63 million per year can be realized from seven centers based from the Lee Day Report Center cost experience of $14. 00 per day per inmate. The state of Georgia is also not exempt in aging offender problem. The Associated
Press (2000) revealed that in 1979, there were about 570 convicts aged 50 and up, increased to 3,050 in June 1999 and 5,000 in 2004. The Georgia prison officials estimated that the elderly inmates could swell to 9,000 by 2010. The Associated Press further reported that like in other states, the cost of maintaining the elderly offenders is becoming more and more expensive. The newspaper revealed that healthcare cost for average Georgia prisoner now amounts to $8. 25 a day. For an elderly offender 50 years old and above, the cost is $27. 00 a day or about $10,000 a year. The newspaper continue saying that the elderly offenders in
Georgia prisons represents about 6% of the whole inmate population but the expense in maintaining them amounts to 12% of the annual health care budget for inmates. This so because the elderly inmates require costly and more specialized health care practices owing to their special geriatric problems. Georgia prison officials revealed that longer prison sentences, tighter parole approvals and the inevitable aging of those prisoners waiting for the completion of their terms contributed to the swelling population of aging offenders. In addition, the “The two Strikes and You’re Out” law (Associated Press, Elderly Inmates
Swell, 13th par. ) enacted by Georgia in 1994 which punishes a felon who commit crime of armed robbery, aggravated child molestation and sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, rape and kidnapping to a mandatory 10 year sentence without parole. The newspaper added that a second violation of any of the six felonies or murder, the felon gets a mandatory life sentence 17 without parole. All of these resulted to stacking effect of offenders in jails until the whole population gets and larger and more costly to handle. Associated Press further reported that John Kerbs, a researcher on criminal justice from University of Michigan suggested
selective decarceration to ease the problem of swelling aging offenders’ population in Georgia prison system. This includes more often officials’ parole review of elderly inmates , electronic monitoring of graying offenders in release programs that is closely supervised and medical paroles for chronic and terminally ill inmates. Based from available studies, the states of Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas share the same problem on aging offenders as the states we have discussed. However, not all states in the U. S.
look at aging offenders with compassion and understanding. One such state is California. Times staff writer, Warren, J (2002) reported that the California Department of Corrections is well aware of the aging prison population. The state according to the writer is well aware of the fact that the cost of maintaining aging offender is thrice the cost of that of the younger inmates. Longer sentences and substantial decline in paroles were considered as the cause of the rise in number of aging inmates. The Times staff writer further stated that the state in this times of economic belt tightening faces a $24 billion deficit
mainly because of the health care expenses of the graying inmate population. Despite this, the state of California is hesitant to implement cost cutting strategies unlike the other U. S. states. The felons, young and old are mixed in cells. Although the idea of segregation based on age, health status and security needed is being considered, that never got off the ground due to the fact that the Correction and state officials are against it. A typical day in the life of an aging offender is a struggle against extortion, insult, bullying and disrespect from the stronger and younger inmates.
The correction officials claim that segregation require additional upfront cost in terms of new buildings and prison facilities and this have no room 18 in a state with huge budget deficit. The prison officials claim that offenders did crimes to society and so they have to suffer the consequences in prison. The staff writer said that nobody in the state legislature is bent to be soft in treating offenders. They even passed a law called “Three strike and you’re out” law to address the problem of the habitual offenders. This law sentences a felon to life imprisonment with no parole provision on the third crime
conviction regardless of the nature of the wrong doing. The writer revealed that the population of inmate in California federal prison as of 2002 is about 4% of the total inmates of 5,800 men and women. According to the writer California reported an expenditure of $676 million on medical care of inmates but decline how much is for the elderly. The author further stated that California prison officials conceded the fact that the elderly require a 24 hour hospice care, high cost cardiac care, costly organ transplants, expensive cancer treatment and closely supervised treatment for dementia.