Costs of Incarcerating Elderly Inmates example

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Costs of Incarcerating Elderly Inmates

The problem of high incarceration levels and the financial burden it has on the American economics has long become one of the most heatedly discussed socio-economic issues. The increasing rate of aging population
among the incarcerated is one of the areas of concern for the economists and policy makers. The 2015 research of the Office of the Inspector General U.S. Department of Justice showed that The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) annual spending on inmate healthcare increased by 29 % from 2009 to 2013.

During the 2013 the average aging inmate cost $ 24, 538 to incarcerate, whereas the average younger inmate cost $ 22, 676 (Office of the Inspector General U.S. Department of Justice, 2016, p. 10). Taking into consideration the annual inflation rates and the constantly increasing costs of healthcare services and medication, it is possible to suggest that these costs have only risen and the gap between the incarceration costs could only become deeper. The same research shows that the older inmates become the higher are the costs of their incarceration. Thus, the annual percentage of BOP's budget secured for healthcare purposes increases together with the general increase of the BOP's budget size.

There are different ways to mediate this problem, although they require serious discussion as the most obvious of them are only short-term remedies. It is possible to make age one of the conditions for releasing among those inmates, who pose little threat or committed non-violent crimes. The Office of the Inspector General U.S. Department of Justice (2016) suggests training the inmate companions to address the needs of the aging inmates, but this may decrease only the medical services costs increasing at the same time the training costs and leaving the costs spent on medication unchanged, not to say the possible increase in the errors that may lead to fatalities. With all this in mind, the only long-term solution that seems viable is to revise the existing sentencing practice to avoid the high levels of aging people incarceration.


Office of the Inspector General U.S. Department of Justice. (2016). The Impact of an Aging Population on the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Evaluation and Inspection Divisions 15 -05. Retrieved from
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