Medical Parole and Aging Prisoners: A Qualitative Study

J Correct Health Care. 2017 Apr;23(2):162-172. doi: 10.1177/1078345817699608. Epub 2017 Mar 30.


The population of geriatric prisoners in the United States will reach unprecedented levels in the coming decades. Geriatric prisoners are at increased risk for deteriorating health and experience the onset of disease earlier than the aging population at large. Medical parole is an underutilized program that allows aging prisoners to transition to community-based health care. This article presents original key informant interview data and analysis of the perceptions of medical parole. Three dominant themes emerged: (1) drugs and nonviolent crimes; (2) politics, costs, and consequences; and (3) quality of health care and sense of security in prison. Participants rejected the possibility that medical care provided is below the clinical standard or is the cause of geriatric prisoners' deteriorating health and consistently implied that medical care at this prison is better than most Americans receive. Participants perceived their careers more as contributions to public health than criminal justice.

Keywords: correctional health care; geriatric prisoners; medical parole; qualitative research.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Geriatric Nursing
  • Health Personnel / psychology
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Prisoners*
  • Qualitative Research
  • United States