Friday, April 19, 2019
Professor Jalila Jeffferson-Bullock has published a new article, Quelling the Silver Tsunami: Compassionate Release of Elderly Offenders. The article appears in 79 Ohio State Law Journal 937-990 (2018) and is available on SSRN here.
The abstract to the article tells us
Sentencing reform appears resurrected. Following a brief hiatus and an expectedly unwelcoming recent federal response, sentencing reform is again reemerging as a major initiative. Congress and the several states are poised to immediately accomplish major reform of the United States criminal sentencing structure. Proposals that would, among other initiatives, drastically reduce criminal sentences, restore rehabilitative programs to inmates, generate sentencing parity, normalize probation for low-level offenses, and shrink the overall prison footprint are ambling through various legislative processes throughout the country. Though groundbreaking and certainly welcome, these reforms largely ignore the special needs of the imprisoned elderly. One of the most foreseeable, yet ironically ignored, consequences of 1980's and 1990's harsh sentencing laws, is the dramatic upsurge in prison population through the predictable process of human aging. Coined the prison “silver tsunami” phenomenon, surging numbers of elderly inmates raises significant moral, health, and fiscal implications deserving keen scrutiny. It is imperative, then, that any overhaul of criminal sentencing focuses on how to meaningfully address the graying of America's prisons.
I usually stop the blog post with the abstract, but I want you to read the opening of the article, too.
I am 70 years old, and I have eight more years to spend in this prison--if I make it. None of my other siblings lived to see their 71st birthday. Lots of the young guys in here still feel like they have something to prove. They pick fights with each other, talk stuff to the guards, smuggle drug, phones, movies, and liquor in. Me, I'm over that. I read the Bible, exercise,and try to be a good example to the other guys. That's how I spend my days. I guess that's all I would do if I were out too. Except, I wouldn't have to do it alone. I think a lot about my wife, been married forty years. My kids are grown and moved all over the country. And my grandbabies, I never can see them. Not being with them, knowing that I may die in here, all alone--that's punishment on top of punishment. (citations omitted)
Read this article-a timely and important topic!