The growth of elderly prison populations is not expected to show down anytime soon, says the Urban Institute in a new report. In the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the nation’s largest corrections system, the proportion of inmates age 49 and younger is expected to grow only marginally over the next five years, while the proportion of those age 50 and older, especially those 65 and older, will grow at an exceedingly fast rate, says the institute.
By these projections, older prisoners could make up nearly 28 percent of the BOP population by fiscal 2019, an increase of almost 10 percentage points compared with fiscal 2011. There is little doubt that the trauma and stress of the prison environment can have an impact on prisoners' accelerated aging and health deterioration. State and federal prisons are experiencing unprecedented levels of older inmates, which have significant implications for budgets. Not only do older prisoners require more treatment and medical care than younger prisoners, their needs may require more time and effort from prison staff. The annual cost of incarcerating someone has been estimated at $68,270, double the cost of a younger offender.