Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Old and Dying In Prison

As inmates age, cost of health care climbs: "Tougher sentencing laws are keeping criminals in prison longer -- often into their 70s and 80s. As medical costs rise, states are struggling to control their prison health care budgets...
...At the state prison in Asheboro, Thomas Taylor walks gingerly with a cane and takes five pills a day. He's had two heart attacks and prostate cancer and now suffers from arthritis and occasionally gout.

Taylor, a convicted rapist serving a life sentence, is at least 88, the oldest inmate in North Carolina's prison system.

The white-haired inmate is among more than 2,950 convicts locked up in the state's prisons who are 50 and over. More than 100 are in their 70s and 80s...
Across the country, state prisons held more than 39,000 inmates age 56 and over in 2002. Two years earlier, there were about 33,000 inmates that age.

The nation's state prisons spent $2.5 billion on inmate medical care in 1996. The price tag in 2001 was $3.3 billion. That's about 12 percent of the prison systems' total operating expenditures.

State prison systems across the country have had to take measures to care for their older inmates. They've set up infirmaries, nursing homes and handicapped-accessible accommodations."

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