When Prison Gets Old

3/1/2013 | Facebook|Twitter|Email
Experts To Discuss Legal, Human Rights Concerns Facing America’s Aging Prison Population

A panel of leading contemporary voices on law and policy decisions regarding America’s prisons will gather at Albany Law School at 2:00 p.m. on March 28, 2013, to discuss the issues facing the nation's increasingly elderly prison population. 

With the number of elderly inmates quadrupling between 1995 and 2010, and estimates showing that nearly one-third of the American prison population will be classified as “elderly” by 2030, the unique needs, burdens, and challenges presented by the aging incarcerated population has received increased public attention in recent years.

Benjamin Pomerance, the 2012 Edgar ’46 & Margaret Sandman Fellow in Aging Law & Policy for Albany Law School’s Government Law Center, will moderate a conversation among the following panelists:

Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director, Correctional Association of New York
Dr. Robert Greifinger, noted prison healthcare consultant and author, and Co- Editor of the International Journal of Public Health
Hon. Robert J. Muller, New York State Supreme Court Judge, Essex & Warren Counties, and longtime member of the Medical Review Board of the New York State Commission of Corrections
Karen L. Murtagh, Executive Director, Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York
Andy Pallito, Commissioner, State of Vermont Department of Corrections
Brian Fischer, Commissioner, State of New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision

The discussion, which will take place in the law school’s Rochester Moot Courtroom, will range from determining Constitutional standards of care for elderly inmates to striking a balance between prison security goals and individual care needs. Issues such as unique medical needs of elderly inmates, proper housing and programming for older prisoners, end-of-life care in a prison setting, and training requirements for correctional staff in dealing with a rapidly aging prison population will be discussed.

In addition, larger policy questions such as the high cost that an aging prison population presents to taxpayers, the feasibility of incarceration alternatives for elderly offenders, and the use and potential risks of early conditional release programs for certain aging inmates will be included in this dialogue.        

In 2012 alone, lengthy investigative reports by Human Rights Watch and the American Civil Liberties Union have called attention to issues ranging from lack of proper medical care for elderly inmates to concerns about aging prisoners being exploited by younger inmates to the need for proper programming and work assignments for the elderly. The nationwide cost of caring for elderly prisoners — nearly $16 billion annually in taxpayer money — has become a subject of concern, as has the fear among victims’ rights advocates that criminals could be released early or given more lenient treatment solely because of their age and health status.

The panel discussion marks the end of the year-long Sandman Fellowship for Pomerance, who has authored a 102-page report on America’s aging incarcerated population that will be published by the school’s Government Law Center this year.

The discussion is free and open to the public. For more information, contact 518-593-4102 or bpomerance@albanylaw.edu. A food-and-beverage reception with the panelists will immediately follow the program. CLE credit is available:Registration form.pdfRegistration form.pdf.