More Elderly Inmates Mean More Medical Care, CU Researchers Say

The number of elderly male inmates in U.S. prisons has gotten 15 times bigger than what was in the early 1980s, researchers at the University of Colorado found in a new study.

They also found the percentage of elderly male prisoners with two or more chronic medical conditions rose sharply.

“I think this study raises questions about as this population continues to age how are we going to handle these inmates because prisons are designed for people with disabilities and they aren’t designed for people who are unhealthy,” said CU doctoral student Kathryn Nowotny, the leader of the study.

Nowotny says it costs $68,000 a year to house an elderly prisoner. That’s double the cost for the average inmate. She also said most older inmates serve sentences that exceed 20 years for drug and other nonviolent offenses.