The past few decades have seen an increase in the number of older prisoners (aged 65 and older) in New Zealand. This demographic shift is largely due to longer prison sentences and increased numbers of people serving sentences for historic sex offences. The numbers are forecast to continue to grow. Older prisoners present a range of mainly health-related issues which require special management to ensure their imprisonment is safe and humane.
The prison environment, prisoner regimes and support services are typically designed for younger prisoners. In response to this, many comparable jurisdictions, including England, Scotland and Canada, have developed strategies for the needs of their older prisoner populations. This thematic inspection provides insight into the current treatment of, and conditions experienced by, older prisoners. It provides the Department of Corrections with an early warning of the risks and challenges associated with managing older prisoners.
Corrections should develop, appropriately resource, and implement a comprehensive Older Prisoners’ Wellbeing Strategy to respond to the age-related needs of older prisoners. Areas for development include:
- Safe and humane treatment
- Health and wellbeing
- Purposeful activity
- Rehabilitation and reintegration
- Post-release support
- Staff training