Corrections statistics in Australia indicate a clear trend towards increased numbers of older prisoners and the growth of this inmate group is paralleled in prisons in the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand. Older prisoner populations present a number of challenges for governments, correctional administrators, healthcare providers and community agencies. This paper looks at the issue of defining the older prisoner and explores the rise in older inmate populations throughout Australia - both at the national level and across the states and territories. The concerns pertaining to the management of older prisoners are examined, including the costs of responding to rising healthcare needs, as well as issues surrounding accommodation and correctional programs for older prisoners. Various solutions and strategies that have been adopted internationally in various correctional settings are also discussed, including the establishment of special needs units for older prisoners and the employment of specialist staff. Finally, the paper discusses the implications of the rise in older prisoner number for corrections policymakers and researchers in the Australian context.
Authors: Susan Baidawi, Shelley Turner, Christopher Trotter, Colette Browning, Paul Collier, Daniel O’Connor and Rosemary Sheehan.
Image: 'Chock-a-block: state's jails bursting at seams', publik16 / flickr