Ohio prison officials have spent more than a decade making plans to deal with its graying population – inmates who are slower, sicker and cost more money for medical care, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. They made up more than 12 percent of the system’s 46,501 prisoners last year, placing Ohio ahead of the national average of 8.7 percent. Officials predict that people 50 or older will comprise one-quarter of the state’s prison population by 2025. That’s not just because young inmates are getting old behind bars. More people over 50 are committing crimes that are putting them into the prison system at advanced ages.
In 2001, 798 offenders were admitted to prison when they were 50 and over. That number climbed to 4,450 in 2008. early 300 inmates in Ohio prisons are older than 70, said Terry Collins, who heads the state prison system. “Our population is graying, which creates issues particularly from a medical standpoint,” he said. “Older offenders need to see the doctor more. They are involved in the chronic care clinics for various illnesses. You also have mental health issues, dementia. That becomes another concern.” There are prescription drugs, hearing aids, walkers, special shoes, dentures, geriatric chairs and beds. Last year, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections spent nearly $199 million of a $1.8 billion budget on medical services for inmates. That’s a 7.7 percent increase over 2007.