In an article by Ketih Veronese, he inquires if the elderly person had little assets or income, and no family to help support with any food and shelter, would it be better to commit a crime and go to prison? After the age sixty-five, where else can this person go? This question lead me to ask Mike Fasth of Senior Helpers, what he thought of this topic.
Senior Helpers, located in Santa Barbara, CA, is an organization that is a resource for better quality of care for the elderly. Mike Fasth of Senior Helpers responded that in this critical state of the elderly person with no income state or resource of supportive family, it is better for the elderly person to go to prison. Mike Fasth adds, that, “In prison, you have given up your rights and the State takes care of you. You don’t have any choice.”
Interestingly, perhaps it is better for the senior citizen–free of cost– to go to prison. With little, or no resources, sure the elderly citizen gives up rights. However, their basic cares such as food and shelter will be covered and taken care of once they are in prison. Food and shelter are basics that are super costly and the low income and poor elderly person needs to live.
However, although such a living situation with food and shelter provided for the elderly prison-mate with nowhere to go, it may be free and uncostly to him, but what about for everyone else like taxpayers of the State? As population of the elderly has risen in prison populations, so too does the cost to take care of medical needs for these senior citizens in prison.
According to Robert Carr in his article, Aging Prison Population Calls for Nursing Care Partnerships, “Roughly 1.6 million people currently incarcerated in the United States, the number of those approaching senior citizen status is increasing rapidly. Between 1995 and 2010, the number of U.S. inmates ages 55 and older quadrupled to 124,400, according to a 2012 Human Rights Watch study. Seniors are expected to account for a third of the entire prison population by 2030.” -Robert Carr
As population of the elderly has risen in prison populations, so does the medical cost to take care for medical needs for these senior citizens in prison. The National Institute of Corrections estimated the annual cost of incarcerating prisoners 55 and older with chronic and terminal illnesses at, on average, two to three times that of the expense for all other inmates, in comparison to younger ones.
“Releasing this low-risk prison population to spend their final years at home, and not in a state-supported prison serving as a de facto nursing home, would save taxpayers up to $40 million a year.”-Lauren Kirchner
In this situation, for now, it seems prison is the way to go for survival for the elderly person for today’s present living standards. With no money, family, or any other resources–if presented the choice between homelessness and getting into a prison–which choice would one take?