Office of the Governor
New York state’s prison population is getting smaller. It is also getting older. From 2007 to 2016, the total number of inmates in state prisons shrunk by 17 percent but the number of prisoners aged 65 or older increased by half. This maps a national trend that led to an ignominious first in 2014, when 2,044 older people died in federal and state prisons—the first time any age group had generated more than 2,000 deaths behind bars.
To some, this is the epitome of justice: Let ’em rot. But as a report out Thursday by the Osborne Association points out, the increasing number of older people in prison imposes significant fiscal costs with almost no public safety justification.
It’s that impact that Osborne hopes will create momentum for change.
“Austerity-driven approaches to shrinking budgets, new questioning of society’s addiction to punishment, and increasing public discomfort with mass incarceration create an opportunity to seriously address the epidemic of America’s graying prison population and to imbue the justice system with values and policies that are humane, cost-effective, and socially responsible,” the report reads. “The time is now.”
This article was reposted from City Limits, an independent online news source.