Elderly prisoners: a growing and forgotten group within correctional systems vulnerable to elder abuse

J Elder Abuse Negl. 2007;19(3-4):97-117. doi: 10.1300/J084v19n03_06.


There are over 2.1 million people incarcerated in the nation's jails and prisons. Additionally, close to 600,000 prisoners are released annually into communities across the country. Many prisoners and those released from prisons are elderly. The purpose of this article is to examine the systemic abuse and neglect experienced by elderly prisoners while they are incarcerated and when they are released from prison. Most correctional systems have inadequate resources, processes, and personnel to manage the elderly population inside and outside of prisons. In addition to providing a definition of "elderly prisoner," two specific problems-prison health care and prisoner re-entry-are examined in the article. The article concludes with recommendations for both policy and research on how best we can further understand and address the multiple needs and concerns faced by elderly prisoners.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Elder Abuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prisons / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology