How can we help older people in prison?

How can we help older people in prison? How can we help older people in prison?

January 31, 20181 min read
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In Canada, one in four inmates are 50 years of age and older and considered to be in the ageing category. To many, 50 may seem young to be considered 'ageing' but "you can [essentially] add… 10 years to [a person's] chronological age" because poor physical and mental health is much more common behind bars.


The Correctional Service of Canada has been working on a strategy to better address this growing population. The current correctional investigator, Adam Zinger, noted that not only is this age cohort the most expensive to incarcerate, they are also a group that poses one of the lowest risks of re-offending.


The older prison population is going to increase even more in the coming years, due to tough-on-crime mandatory minimum sentences. This changing demographic means that correctional facilities will see a rise in prisoners with dementia, chronic illnesses, and cancer, as well as a higher rate of natural deaths behind bars.


Alternatives to traditional prisons are needed because these current correctional facilities are not built to accommodate older people, according to Laura Tamblyn Watts who is a senior fellow and staff lawyer at the Canadian Centre for Elder Law.


Will this new Canadian strategy provide solutions that promote healthy ageing in prisons? Can it suggest alternatives to traditional incarceration for this ageing population?


That is where the experts from the International Federation on Ageing come in. Click on one of the icons above to arrange an interview with an expert today.


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  • Prof. Sarah Harper
    Prof. Sarah Harper Director and Professor of Gerontology

    Sarah trained as an ethnographer and her early research focused on migration and the social implications of demographic change

  • Dr. Jane Barratt
    Dr. Jane Barratt Secretary General

    As Secretary General of the IFA Dr Barratt is an internationaly respected speaker on age related issues across the globe.

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