The population of elderly prisoners in the United States has increased by more than 1,400 percent since 1981, according to a new report published by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Three decades ago, American prisons housed fewer than 9,000 prisoners age 55 and older; today, that number stands at 124,900, according to the report. The ACLU projects the elderly prisoner population to top 400,000 by 2040.
The report calls for a series of reforms, including conditional release for aging prisoners who pose little safety risk, an expansion of medical parole, the reauthorization and expansion of the federal aging prisoner release program and repeals to laws targeting habitual offenders, “truth-in-sentencing” and mandatory minimum sentencing. The report cites evidence that elderly prisoners pose less risk than younger inmates.
Read the report here.
Editor’s note: For another take on this issue from one of our TCR columnists, see Jamie Fellner’s Viewpoint, “Frail and Elderly Prisoners: Do They Still Belong Behind Bars?”