Magazine article Corrections Forum

Nursing Homes as Prisons? or the "Graying" of the Inmate Population

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Nursing Homes as Prisons? or the "Graying" of the Inmate Population

Article excerpt

The federal prison population is aging, and as the elderly swell the inmate ranks and gobble up healthcare dollars, it makes sense to consider other options to reduce the burden on federal correctional facilities everywhere, doesn't it?

What sparked Corrections Forum's interest in this topic was an Amendment to Bill §333 which would grant early release (and/or home detention) to non-violent, elderly prisoners who have served at least 1/3 of their sentence proposed by Somer Stephenson. Stephenson is only 26 years old, and her concern is a direct result of the incarceration of her father for conspiracy and wire fraud.

"My father was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison, and before that, I never even thought about prisoners," Stephenson explains. "Now, I've had a lot of contact with families and other people who share the struggle of losing an elderly non-violent, often white collar criminal to the system. The sad thing is that it costs so much money. A lot of these elderly people have medical conditions and that is an additional financial burden on the federal government.

An elderly person, an inmate over 55, costs about three and a half times the cost of a young person." Stephenson's amendment aims at replacing incarceration with alternatives, something Corrections Forum has been covering for quite some time. The amendment defines eligible prisoners as: a prisoner in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who

(A) is not less than 50 years of age

(B) is serving a term of imprisonment after conviction for an offense in the federal judicial system and has no history of violence while having been incarcerated

(C) is presently still incarcerated after serving one third of his term of judgment of conviction allowing 35% "goodtime" credit also

(D) has not escaped, or attempted to escape, from a Bureau of Prisons secured facility; and

(E) as a matter of examining the record of that prisoner it can be ascertained whether or not the above criteria has been met. …

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