Prisons, Older People, and Age-Friendly Cities and Communities: Towards an Inclusive Approach

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Dec 9;17(24):9200. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17249200.


This original and ground-breaking interdisciplinary article brings together perspectives from gerontology, criminology, penology, and social policy to explore critically the nature and consequences of the lack of visibility of prisons, prisoners, and ex-prisoners within global research, policy and practice on age-friendly cities and communities (AFCC), at a time when increasing numbers of people are ageing in prison settings in many countries. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges in the contexts both of older peoples' lives, wellbeing, and health, and also within prison settings, and thus it is timely to reflect on the links between older people, prisons, and cities, at a time of ongoing change. Just as there is an extensive body of ongoing research exploring age-friendly cities and communities, there is extensive published research on older people's experiences of imprisonment, and a growing body of research on ageing in the prison setting. However, these two research and policy fields have evolved largely independently and separately, leading to a lack of visibility of prisons and prisoners within AFCC research and policy and, similarly, the omission of consideration of the relevance of AFCC research and policy to older prisoners and ex-prisoners. Existing checklists and tools for assessing and measuring the age-friendliness of cities and communities may be of limited relevance in the context of prisons and prisoners. This article identifies the potential for integration and for cross-disciplinary research in this context, concluding with recommendations for developing inclusive research, policies, and evaluation frameworks which recognise and include prisons and older prisoners, both during and after incarceration.

Keywords: age-friendly cities and communities; ex-prisoners; older offenders; prisoners; prisons.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • COVID-19
  • Cities
  • City Planning*
  • Environment Design*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Prisoners
  • Prisons*