Thursday, November 29, 2018
Erika A. Parks published an Article entitled, Elderly and Incarcerated: Preventing the Medical Deaths of Older People in Texas Prisons, 23 Tex. J. on C.L. & C.R. 145-164 (2018). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.
Between 2005 and 2015, 2,284 people over the age of 55 died in Texas prisons. All but 53 of these deaths were due to natural causes. The older population in Texas prison has been growing in both number and percentage for some time, spiking from 11.9 percent of the total in 2005 to today’s 20.3 percent, a growth trend mirrored across the United States. The large number of older people in Texas prisons causes logistical challenges for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) as well as for the people in prison themselves. Older people have different challenges in prison than their younger counterparts, including mobility problems, other physical and mental disabilities, and a variety of medical issues that can lead to death. This paper explores current conditions for older people in Texas prisons and analyzes data on older people who died of natural causes in prison. Analysis indicates that a plurality of these people entered prison when they were already at least 55 years old, and the majority had been in prison for fewer than 10 years at the time of their deaths. The paper also recommends policy options to prevent these deaths, including increasing availability of medical and compassionate release, prioritizing alternatives to prison for older people who commit crimes, and establishing residential facilities to safely house older people on parole.