Sunday, February 26, 2012

Aging Inmates Cared For by Other Inmates

Photo courtesy Todd Heisler for the New York Times.
This weekend's New York Times features an article on the California Men's Colony, where some inmates--some of them convicted killers--care for elderly inmates suffering from dementia. 

The story has a financial angle, too. Teaching some inmates to care for others is a cost-saving measure, in addition to its other virtues; but it is also a reminder of the expenses involved in incarcerating aging inmates, whose lifestyle makes them age faster than non-inmates, as found in this report from Vera Institute of Justice.

With many prisons already overcrowded and understaffed, inmates with dementia present an especially difficult challenge. They are expensive — medical costs for older inmates range from three to nine times as much as those for younger inmates. They must be protected from predatory prisoners. And because dementia makes them paranoid or confused, feelings exacerbated by the confines of prison, some attack staff members or other inmates, or unwittingly provoke fights by wandering into someone else’s cell.

Props to Zafir Shaiq for the link.

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