Aging prisoners, pricey health care

Health care for older inmates costing national penal system big time

An aging national prison population is costing more in health-care expenses than ever before, a new study finds.

Published in the American Journal of Public Health, the study by UC San Francisco researchers found the number of inmates 55 and older increased by almost 80 percent between 2000 and 2009, a period in which the number of inmates of all ages increased by 16 percent, according to UC Health.

Inmates 55 or older cost the penal system two to three times more to care for than younger prisoners. The study’s authors recommended screening for dementia, standard policies for geriatric units, improving palliative care, improving training of prison staff and health-care providers, and creating national criteria for early release based on medical issues.

The authors also noted prisoners would rely less on emergency services upon release if they received better care while incarcerated.