Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Prisons should mirror society: the debate on age-segregated housing for older prisoners

  • TENZIN WANGMO (a1), VIOLET HANDTKE (a1), WIEBKE BRETSCHNEIDER (a1) and BERNICE SIMONE ELGER (a1)
Abstract

The debate on age-segregated housing for older prisoners has seldom captured the perspectives of older prisoners and professionals (‘stakeholders’) working in a European prison setting. To address this gap in the research, 35 older prisoners from Switzerland and 40 stakeholders from three European countries (including Switzerland) were interviewed for the study. Data analysis was conducted thematically, and the validity of coding was established independently from the primary author. Interpretation of study results was agreed upon by all authors. Participants' opinions regarding age-segregated housing for older prisoners were split. An almost equal number of prisoners and stakeholders had similar arguments in favour of and against such living arrangements. The findings encompassed three major themes: ‘prisons should mirror society’ and thus age-mixed housing was preferable as it ensured generational exchange; a ‘separate unit within the prison’ would allow continuity of personal and other relationships and at the same time respond to older prisoners' specific health and environmental needs; finally, participants felt it was important to think critically about ‘the criteria’ for placing older prisoners in an age-segregated arrangement. We conclude that the debate on consolidated versus separate housing is bifurcated. Any push towards segregation based only on high prison violence and unvalidated context-specific information may result in unreliable public policy.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Tenzin Wangmo, Institute for Biomedical Ethics, University of Basel, Bernoullistr. 28, Basel 4056, Switzerland E-mail: tenzin.wangmo@unibas.ch
References
Hide All
Adams, W. E. J. 1995. The incarceration of older criminals: balancing safety, cost, and humanitarian concerns. Nova Law Review, 19, 465–86.
Aday, R. H. 1994. Golden years behind bars – special programs and facilities for elderly inmates. Federal Probation, 58, 2, 4754.
Aday, R. H. 2003. Aging Prisoners: Crisis in American Corrections. Praeger, Westport, Connecticut.
Aday, R. H. 2005–6. Aging prisoners’ concern toward dying in prison. OMEGA, 52, 3, 199216.
Aday, R. and Farney, L. 2014. Malign neglect: assessing older women's health care experiences in prison. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 11, 3, 359–72.
Ahalt, C., Trestman, R. L., Rich, J. D., Greifinger, R. B. and Williams, B. A. 2013. Paying the price: the pressing need for quality, cost, and outcomes data to improve correctional health care for older prisoners. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 61, 11, 2013–19.
Binswanger, I. A., Krueger, P. M. and Steiner, J. F. 2009. Prevalence of chronic medical conditions among jail and prison inmates in the USA compared with the general population. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 63, 11, 912–9.
Braun, V. and Clarke, V. 2008. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 2, 77101.
Bretschneider, W. and Elger, B. S. 2014. Expert perspectives on Western European prison health services: do ageing prisoners receive equivalent care? Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 11, 3, 319–32.
Bundesamt für Statistik 2014 a. Freiheitsentzug, Strafvollzug – Daten, Indikatoren. Available online at http://cmsp.migration6.vbs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/de/index/themen/19/03/05/key/ueberblick/wichtigsten_zahlen.html [Accessed 19 May 2015].
Bundesamt für Statistik 2014 b. Strafvollzug: Mittlerer Insassenbestand Der Über 49-Jährigen Personen, Periode 1984–2013. Available online at http://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/portal/de/index/themen/19/03/05/key/vollzug_von_sanktionen/strafvollzug.html [Accessed 19 May 2015].
Carson, E. A. 2014. Prisoners in 2013.32. Available online at http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p13.pdf [Accessed 19 May 2015].
Crawley, E. and Sparks, R. 2006. Is there life after imprisonment? How elderly men talk about imprisonment and release. Criminology and Criminal Justice, 6, 1, 6382.
Elger, B. S. 2008. Research involving prisoners: consensus and controversies in international and European regulations. Bioethics, 22, 4, 224–38.
Elger, B. S. 2009. Prison life: television, sports, work, stress and insomnia in a remand prison. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 32, 2, 7483.
Elger, B. S., Goehring, C., Revaz, S. A. and Morabia, A. 2002. Prescription of hypnotics and tranquilisers at the Geneva prison's outpatient service in comparison to an urban outpatient medical service. Sozial-und Präventivmedizin, 47, 1, 3943.
Fazel, S. and Baillargeon, J. 2011. The health of prisoners. Lancet, 377, 9769, 956–65.
Fazel, S., Hope, T., O'Donnell, I., Piper, M. and Jacoby, R. 2001. Health of elderly male prisoners: worse than the general population, worse than younger prisoners. Age and Ageing, 30, 5, 403–7.
Ginn, S. 2012. Elderly prisoners. The BMJ, 345, e6263.
Goetting, A. 1985. Racism, sexism, and ageism in the prison community. Federal Probation, 49, 3, 1022.
Guest, G., MacQueen, K. M. and Namey, E. E. 2012. Applied Thematic Analysis. Sage, Los Angeles.
Handtke, V., Bretschneider, W., Elger, B. and Wangmo, T. 2015. Easily forgotten: elderly female prisoners. Journal of Aging Studies, 32, 1, 111.
Handtke, V., Bretschneider, W., Wangmo, T. and Elger, B. 2012. Facing the challenges of an increasingly ageing prison population in Switzerland: in search of ethically acceptable solutions. Bioethica Forum, 5, 4, 134–41.
Handtke, V. and Wangmo, T. 2014. Ageing prisoners’ views on death and dying: contemplating end-of-life in prison. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 11, 3, 373–86.
Howse, K. 2003. Growing Old in Prison: A Scoping Study on Older Prisoners. Prison Trust Reform, London.
Human Rights Watch 2012. Old Behind Bars: The Aging Prison Population in the United States. Human Rights Watch, New York.
Kerbs, J. J. and Jolley, J. M. 2007. Inmate-on-inmate victimization among older male prisoners. Crime & Delinquency, 53, 2, 187218.
Kerbs, J. J. and Jolley, J. M. 2009. A commentary on age segregation for older prisoners. Criminal Justice Review, 34, 1, 119–39.
Kerbs, J. J., Jolley, J. M. and Kanaboshi, N. 2015. The interplay between law and social science in the age-segregation debate. Journal of Crime and Justice, 38, 1, 7795.
Loeb, S. J. and Abudagga, A. 2006. Health-related research on older inmates: an integrative review. Research in Nursing & Health, 29, 6, 556–65.
Loeb, S. J., Steffensmeier, D. and Lawrence, F. 2008. Comparing incarcerated and community-dwelling older men's health. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 30, 2, 234–49; discussion 250–38.
Marquart, J. W., Merianos, D. E. and Doucet, G. 2000. The health-related concerns of older prisoners: implications for policy. Ageing & Society, 20, 1, 7996.
Maschi, T., Viola, D. and Sun, F. 2013. The high cost of the international aging prisoner crisis: well-being as the common denominator for action. Gerontologist, 53, 4, 543–54.
Ministry of Justice 2015. Offender Management Statistics Quarterly: July to September December 2014. Prison Population: 31 December 2013 to 31 December 2014. Table 1.3: Prison Population by Type of Custody, Age and Sex. Available online at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/offender-management-statistics-quarterly-july-to-september-2014 [Accessed 19 May 2015].
Neeley, C. L. and Addision, L. 1997. Addressing the needs of elderly offenders. Corrections Today, 59, 5, 4.
Patton, M. 1990. Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods Sage, Beverly Hills, California.
Rikard, R. V. and Rosenberg, E. 2007. Aging inmates: a convergence of trends in the American criminal justice system. Journal of Correctional Health Care, 13, 3, 150–62.
Thivierge-Rikard, R. V. and Thompson, M. S. 2007. The association between aging inmate housing management models and non-geriatric health services in state correctional institutions. Journal of Aging & Social Policy, 19, 4, 3956.
Trotter, C. and Baidawi, S. 2015. Older prisoners: challenges for inmates and prison management. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 48, 2, 200–18.
Vestal, C. 2013. Study Finds Aging Inmates Pushing Up the Prison Health Care Costs. Available online at http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2013/10/29/study-finds-aging-inmates-pushing-up-prison-health-care-costs [Accessed 8 June 2015].
Vito, G. F. and Wilson, D. G. 1985. Forgotten people: elderly inmates. Federal Probation, 49, 18, 1824.
Wangmo, T., Meyer, A. H., Bretschneider, W., Handtke, V., Kressig, R. W., Gravier, B., Bula, C. and Elger, B. S. 2015. Ageing prisoners’ disease burden: is being old a better predictor than time served in prison? Gerontology, 61, 2, 116–23.
Williams, M. E. and Rikard, R. V. 2004. Marginality or neglect: an exploratory study of policies and programs for aging female inmates. Women and Criminal Justice, 15, 3/4, 121–41.
Wilper, A. P., Woolhandler, S., Boyd, J. W., Lasser, K. E., McCormick, D., Bor, D. H. and Himmelstein, D. U. 2009. The health and health care of US prisoners: results of a nationwide survey. American Journal of Public Health, 99, 4, 666–72.
Yates, J. and Gillespie, W. 2000. The elderly and prison policy. Journal of Aging & Social Policy, 11, 2/3, 167–75.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 11
Total number of PDF views: 187 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 701 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 16th August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.