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The number of elderly inmates in state prisons has rapidly increased in comparison with the population of younger inmates over the past five years. This trend of increasing population of aging prisoners has been observed in most prisons in various states within the United States of America. It is believed that the increase of aging prisoners has resulted from more punitive and strict response to criminal activities. This has consequently led to retention of more offenders for longer periods within correctional units. Another contributing factor to the increased number of old prisoners is the overall aging population in the United States.

With regard to this social problem, research studies have been conducted to determine the rate of increase of population of aging prisoners in Michigan State. In the state of Michigan, the number of inmates aged fifty and above has risen from 30 000 to one 120 000 between 2005 and 2010 (Madden, Rositer & Klock, 2011). This represented an overall increase of 60 percent amongst aging prisoners, whereas the total number of prisoners within the same period increased by 12 percent only. This indicated a trend of increasing number of elderly inmates within prisons.

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According to Aday, the increase in number of elderly prisoners has resulted into numerous social problems and challenges within the justice systems (2009). There has been reduced accommodation of aging inmates in prisons. Additionally, costs of accommodating elderly prisoners have also increased. There has also been an increase in costs of provision of medical and mental healthcare facilities to elderly inmates. A research study by Colsher, Wallace, and Sales revealed that most inmates tend to develop health complications more often and at a higher rate as compared to younger inmates and the general population (2010).

According to the National Institute of Corrections, elderly inmates are those persons who are aged 50 and more (Herman, 2008). The increase in number of elderly inmates has been accelerated by the tendency of old prisoners to engage in more risky behaviors such as sexual assaults, violent robberies, drug and alcohol abuse, and burglary. The issue of aging prisoners has thus become a major social problem within the correctional and justice systems that requires immediate prevention, control, and management strategies.

Various research studies have indicated that ageing inmate population in Michigan State has been constantly increasing since 2005. Between 2006 and 2008, the population of aging prisoners grew at the rate of 21 percent annually (Williams, 2012). This increase in population of elderly inmates has resulted into various social and economic problems and challenges in prisons. Most prisons no longer provide adequate accommodation to elderly inmates (Jacobson-Hardy, 2009).

The major purpose of this study is to identify various problems that elderly inmates face in prisons within Michigan State, for example, poor physical and mental health, inadequate accommodation within correctional units, and costs associated with such issues. This research study also explores various approaches, plans, and policies that can be adopted to facilitate proper accommodation of elderly inmates in prisons. It also recommends various possible solutions to the devastating issue of increasing number of old prisoners.

This is a descriptive research study that looks at the problem of accommodation of elderly inmates in prisons. The study has been carried in major state prisons across Michigan State as well as other state prisons in the United States of America. The study provides information specifically relating to the issue of accommodation of elderly inmates in major state prisons in Michigan.

The research method used involved detailed examination and assessment of various issues faced by elderly imamates in prisons. Primary data sources included direct observation and filed visits to prisons, administration of questionnaires, and face-to-face interviews with inmates. In order to provide further understanding of the problem, detailed analysis of secondary sources of data such as periodicals, government publications, previous research articles, and books have also been reviewed.

During the research correctional facilities for the survey were selected based on the ratio of aging prisoners to younger prisoners, for example, a facility that had a ratio of 3:1 was preferred. Another factor that determined the selection of a correctional facility was availability of support services or facilities such as healthcare units and training workshops within the prison.

The research study revealed that as of December 30, 2011, there were a total of 400 000 inmates in state prisons in Michigan State. The number of elderly imamates was 120 000. This constituted approximately 30 percent of the total inmate population.

A detailed analysis of national records revealed that it costs nearly 10 000 U.S. dollars to accommodate an inmate aged between 50 and 75 years. The cost triples to approximately 30 000 dollars for inmates aged above 80 years. This translates the costs of accommodating elderly inmates to be two times higher than the cost of accommodating younger inmates, which costs approximately 5 500 dollars per month. In the fiscal year 2009-2010, the average cost for accommodating an elderly inmate was estimated to be 12 250 U.S. dollars while that of accommodating a younger inmate aged below 50 years stood at 7 480 dollars (Williams, 2012). It was further found out that more than 61 percent of inmates aged above 50 years were serving long term sentences of 10-25 years, while another 33 percent were serving life sentences. This has resulted into increased number of aging prisoners.

During the research study, a total of 500 inmates aged 50 years and above were interviewed in 10 correctional facilities. The survey revealed that the average age of elderly inmates was 62 years with a range of 50 to 90 years. It was found that most of the inmates had poor health conditions and most of them suffered from various diseases related to untidy environments, aging conditions, and unbalanced diets. Those who had physical disabilities also reported lack of specialized care and assistance within prisons. Additionally, most elderly inmates were found to suffer from heart diseases, liver and kidney problems, poor visions, and los of hearing ability.

I would recommend that state prisons should take proactive approaches in dealing with elderly inmates. Adequate measures should be taken to regulate and control the influx of elderly inmates in prisons. Prisons should develop special correctional strategies and programs that would facilitate the release of elderly inmates from prisons, for example, they should undergo thorough guidance, counseling, and psychotherapies to help them develop acceptable behaviors within the society. Legislations regulating administration of sentences should also be reviewed. For example, elderly offenders with less serious offences may be released on bail or may serve their terms out of the prison facilities. This would help in reducing the number of elderly inmates within the correctional facilities.

Elderly inmates may also be taught special life skills such as carpentry and masonry to enable them become productive members of the society. Such skills would also help them in meeting their personal needs such as buying food and clothing, and thus reduce their involvement in criminal activities such as robbery.

Elderly inmates should also be given specialized healthcare services so as to help improve their medical conditions. For example, elderly inmates with mental illnesses may be treated at specialized geriatric centers. Moreover, old inmates may also be put on special diets to improve their health. This is because the immune system of their bodies often becomes weaker as they age, hence they easily contract diseases. Inmates who have poor health conditions should be placed in specialized rooms for more specialized medical attention.

Additional facilities should also be built to provide adequate housing facilities to the inmates. This would help to solve the problem of overcrowding in prisons. Special housing facilities may also be constructed to accommodate elderly inmates with special needs, for example, Kansas has special housing facilities called Sheltered Living Units that are exclusively used by aging prisoners only (Cusac, 2009).

Elderly inmates who have successfully completed their correctional programs should be released back to the community so as to reduce congestion within prisons. Sick or incapacitated inmates should also be released back to society.

Moreover, prison facilities such as buildings and pathways should also be modified to enable elderly inmates and prisoners with disabilities to access such facilities easily. For example, buildings should have ramps and runways to ease movement of elderly inmates who use wheelchairs.


I would argue that it is advisable for state prisons to develop and implement comprehensive legislations that would regulate the number of aging inmates in prisons. Adoption of suitable correctional policies and procedures that would focus on adequate accommodation of aging prisoners should also be ensured. In my opinion, prevailing conditions within prisons should not further complicate lives of inmates, but rather make it more comfortable. Creation of humane environment within prisons is thus mandatory.

Code: writers15

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