Writing in the Huffington Post about the growing geriatric prison population, Tina Maschi asks, “With some 246,000 men and women over 50 in America’s overly stretched prison system, should we as a society consider releasing the fragile, the ill, and the dying among these prisoners? In theory, we already have. Compassionate, medical, or geriatric prisoner release laws have been around since the 1970s in the U.S. But the reality is that while such programs currently exist in 41 states, they are rarely if ever used.”
She cites politics. Maschi continues, “Historically, the U.S. legal system approach to incarceration has ebbed and flowed between two attitudes — compassionate and punitive. In recent decades, stricter sentencing laws and the resulting long-term confinement of older adults have produced nothing less than a morally and financially expensive humanitarian crisis.” She said the country has a moral imperative to deal with the complex, difficult problem.