Trittichuh Hicks, 83, is serving 12 years in prison for molestation, one of nearly 1,200 Oklahoma prisoners older than 55, reports The Oklahoman. Elderly inmates are the costliest prisoners, and more and more will grow old behind bars. In Oklahoma, inmate medical care costs twice as much as food and five times as much as utilities. The last years of life are the most expensive, and more Oklahoma offenders will spend their last years in prison because of tougher sentencing laws, such as truth-in-sentencing, a requirement that violent and repeat criminals serve 85 percent of their sentences. More than 760 inmates are now serving life in prison without the possibility of parole. Said one official: “We’re going to have a group of people who are sentenced basically to die in prison.”
Corrections officials are preparing for higher medical costs and more special-needs inmates who need to live in special living quarters or require the help of other inmates to function. Plans are complete for a new handicapped-accessible unit at one prison. The $4.4 million unit will have about 250 beds and five medical staffers. Inmates transferred to the new unit will be those who are able to transfer from other prisons and in need of more accessible surroundings.