Aging prison refers to a situation in which older people, and particularly those over 65 years, according to human rights watch, find themselves locked in the local police department or imprisoned under community jails and border patrols, because of committing certain crimes such as rape, involvement in violence, drug abuse or even murder. Various states classify aged prisoners differently according to their age, for example, in Colorado aged prisoners are termed as those above 50 years. Though most of us thought that prisons are made for the young bodied individuals, who have not complied with the human rights in one way or the other, most of the elderly fellows have found themselves behind the bars leaving the independent life and dignity, we expect them to enjoy quietly at home (Armstrong-Ester, 1995). As prisoners, they are expected to enjoy adequate medical services, good rehabilitation facilities and proper mental care. However, these remains to be a series of dreams to them as their human rights are always broken down by the various stakeholders such as police officers and statesmen around them. In the local police department prisons, the elderly prisoners are no longer recognized. They are subjected to brutal punishment and heavy daily work just like their young energetic counterparts.
Topical Area: Challenges in the Local Police Department Prison
Local police department prisons hold the largest portion of the aging prisoners compared to other forms of the prison systems. The prisoners under these categories are the ones who have committed heavy crimes such as murder, rape and even involvement in drug abuse among others. The inmates serve long term imprisonment usually decades of years and they are subjected to heavy workloads that they are incapable of performing, hence a challenge to them. They face other challenges such as brutal punishment where they are seriously beaten by the police officers and threatened not to disclose the senior official or even the human rights observers. Some of the aged prisoners end up dying in the prison as the place is very cold and their body cannot maintain those temperatures required.
Secondly, there is a challenge of high crime rate in the prisons, where the older prisoners are beaten by their fellow young prisoners, especially where they are confined in the same jail chamber. Some of them go to an extent of being introduced to sodomy within the chamber, endangering their health of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS. They are forced to keep silent as reporting to the senior administrator of the prison will have no impact and no action will be taken against the criminals. The reporters and other human rights activists are also not allowed to visit them hence there exists a challenge to the proper protection of the aged prisoners. As a result, their problem reaches the administrators notice only when the elderly prisoners are found dead in the morning or even found in critical health conditions. The officers manning the prisoners will not open the doors and rescue life even if they come across one of the prisoners seriously sick at night. They always turn deaf and decide to wait till morning.
Thirdly, there is a challenge for the aged prisoners being not encouraged that the crime they committed and sent them to prison is forgivable and they only need to change their morals through the rehabilitation centre set in the prison. The prison administrators do not adequately advice and counsel the aged prisoners. They rather discourage them that they will die in the prison and no room for a chance to meet their families again. This poor moral attitude created in their mind accelerates most of the elderly prisoners to find life difficult and prefer death to life. The issue has even posed a challenge to the rehabilitators, the society and even the human right watchdogs on how to institute behavioral changes to the aged prisoners, hence a challenge to all stakeholders.
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In addition to the above challenges, the aged prisoners face the problem of high level of violence within the cells. At night, they are subjected to great tortures by the young prisoners and some prison administrators. This happens when the prisoners differ among themselves or if the resources they are sharing are inadequate. The violence can cause psychological or mental problems to the victims hence it is a challenge the society is facing with the aged prisoners. This problem has lasted for decades and the government has fought it for several years without any positive results. The problem has been contributed by the society creating stigmatization on the aged prisoners and the government failing to train adequate prison administrators. In addition, to that the policy guideline over the rights of the prisoners has not been fully defined in the constitutions of various states. The prisoners’ rights have also been cordoned by the administrators willingly as they believe that this will punish them for their wrong deeds committed in the past.
Another challenge to the aged prisoners is a high number of complaints from the civilians, who claim that these prisoners are harassing them whenever released back to the community after the end of the imprisonment term. They claim that they are not fully reformed and still pose a high risk to the society. Some of their family members ignore them and, thus, aged prisoners are forced to live as outcasts. Secondly, in the prison the officers and even the young prisoners see this as an extraordinary matter to come to prison aged 70 years, having been disrespectfully left behind your kids because of your innocence. This victimization from the society makes it a challenge to human rights watch dogs and the rehabilitators to fully liberate the aged prisoners from this problem (Chaneles, 1989). The problem has been a result of the government failing to well define the rights of the aged prisoners by setting different prisons from those of the young prisoners. Secondly, the correction officials helped are not fully trained and this posed a great challenge to the proper implementation of the human rights. In addition to that, some of the in-mates have reported physical attacks without weapons by their fellow inmates to the administrators, who don’t take any legal action against the criminals, hence a challenge that the government needs to deal with in the prison (Wahidin, 2006). According to the statistics carried out in Jersey island, it was found that the older offenders reports high rate of victimization than the younger prisoners, hence they need to be taken care of.
Lastly, there is a challenge of inadequate equipment and resources within the cell that pose a great danger to the life of the inmates. The problem originates where the government fails to recognize the rights of the offenders. These in adequate facilities include accommodation, health items, such as drugs, and even adequate food for the prisoners. Most of the inmates sleep on earthen floors without mattresses. Their health has been ignored as they are taken to hospital only in critical conditions. This problem has been found by the Human Right Watch organization to be widespread in the developing countries. The governments in these countries have not adequately provided for the older inmates. This challenge has been eminent among most countries and up to 2011, few countries have successfully been able to cater the life of the elderly prisoners well.
Stakeholder’s Contributions to the Problems
Various stakeholders both internal and external, have greatly influenced either negatively or positively the aging imprisonment and especially the local police department. The internal stakeholders include correction officials, rehabilitators and the inmates. On the other hand the, the external stakeholders include; the society, the government and the human rights activists. Some of the stakeholders have been an obstacle to the full realization of the aged prisoners imprisonment, while others, such as human rights observers, have been keen to ensure that the rights of the inmates are fully respected. The positive issues that have so far been enjoyed by the inmate are the following and forms part of the solutions that the government can take to ensure that the rights of the inmates are fully adhered to regardless of the crimes they committed.
The solution #1
First of all, most of the human rights have been fighting for the housing of the older inmates in separate rooms from the young ones. The human right observers proposes the mainstreaming form of imprisonment, where the weak and vulnerable old inmates are categorically separated from the young prisoners and given to the general population to serve it. The correction department can use the level of sickness, culture and disabilities to select those, who will be confined in the separate prisons. They can also be classified based on the security issues, according to how violent an individual can be. In North Carolina, most of the human rights activists matched in the streets calling for the government to separate the inmates according to their ages. However, the government has been an obstacle, since most of the prisoners’ rights have not been strictly followed. According to a study carried out in Mississippi by Human Right Watch, most of the inmates demand more and better medical services at the age of 65 years. Most of them need quick nursing service, as in Ohio it was found that the older inmates can stay in the Hocking Correction Room for more than 8 hours without walking outside or going to bathe (Aday, 2003). The government and especially in most of the developing countries do not distinguish the old and young inmates when sending them to till their plantations. This has significantly contributed to the poor health of the older inmates. Most of them suffer chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer, but nobody cares about this.
Thus, under this situation the government proves to fail in safeguarding the rights of the elderly inmates. A good example is in Central Mississippi Correction Facility, where the inmates suffering from dementia are confined in separate room. Dementia refers to a disorder in which an individual exhibits some usual behaviors, like failing to take bathe. In USA, several prisons have dementia facilities and they include, New York, Ohio and California. In December 2011, New York Fishkill correction facility was installed with Unit for the Cognitive Impaired (UCI), which helps to house those inmates proved to suffer from any impairment. Later, in 2011, the California Men Colony (CMC), another UCI was installed to serve the dementia inmates.
The solution #2
The internal stakeholders such as the correction officials have been found to control the problem by failing to adequately segregate the younger and the older inmates. The research we carried out found that the officers are reluctant to segregate the elderly prisoners from those who are young. This has been agitated by poor policies, pertaining to the inmate rights in our constitutions. Secondly, our officers are not well trained and equipped. However, most of the correction and elderly inmates we interviewed in the California substance abuse cell disclosed that it’s better to mix only the inmates of only aged population.
The solution #3
Thirdly, the research, we carried out in Ohio Correction facility together with various U.S. prisons revealed that up to April 2011, the government in conjunction to the other internal stakeholders have started a recreation and work initiative program, which entails the inmates being provided with television sets, newspapers and engage in some of the day to day programs, such as carpentry and construction of the government infrastructures. However, the elderly inmates we interviewed in Ohio Prison narrated how they have not benefited from the programs, meaning the government has ignored them. They claim that the government has even gone far to slash their budgets of essential expenditure such as medical services, thus, endangering their life. A good example, we found was in Colorado correction Facility where the correction officers do not recognizes the over 50 inmates but only provided recreational hours to those below 50 years and willing to play. The research on the developing countries was found to indicate that the correction officials never cared the weak and sick inmates but subjected the entire inmates in heavy tasks like tilling the land.
The solutions to the problem can adequately be accommodated by all the stakeholders. In order to motivate them the shareholder should be willing psychologically to implement the reforms. These solutions are vital for those who do observe and follow the human rights. For the stakeholders to be motivated, proper training, especially to the correction officials, needs to be availed as this will help them in identifying the needs of those vulnerable and sick aged inmates, hence quick to extend a helping hand. In addition to that, I would convince the government of the need to have the age inmates, and especially those showing weak and poor health, segregated in separate rooms, designed to improve their health (Kastenbaum, 1993). More over, constitutional amendment to promote the rights of the inmates will also be a gateway to the problems. The victimization problem, hailing from the society viewing the inmate as outcasts, will also be solved by ensuring that the society is educated the rights of the inmates and the role it can play to ensure that the inmates are fully transformed not to commit the crimes they did before. Lastly, the next way to motivate the stakeholders is to have them be signatories of the Human Right Watch so that they can learn the essence of having healthy elderly inmates (Hylton, 2003).
Technological or Information System’s Contributions
Technological advancement has greatly contributed to the problem of the aging ending up being held in a prison. According to the research carried out in Ohio Correction Facility, it was found that most of the inmates possess mobile phones among other heavy gadgets, which were used in the process of communicating with their family members and secondly in the criminal activities, such as tricking people to send them money. We found that the inmates collude with some of the correction officials to buy them the phones or even some drugs. However, the technology can be beneficial in helping the inmates by fixing CCTV cameras in their rooms in order to monitor those, who continue to commit crimes behind the bars against the others. The technology can also be used by the prisons in fixing proper sports equipments for the aged prisoners, so that they can enjoy and have an easy life in the docks. This was evident in New York correction Facility, where most of the facilities in the correction departments were automated to give way to the proper implementation of the inmates’ human rights.
Methodology of the Study
The data used for this study was collected using the interview, observation and internal questionnaire method from different nine USA states which include; Ohio, Colorado, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Georgia, New York and California. The data was collected from over 20 prisons in the states. During the data collection process, the researcher interviewed most of the senior officials in the correction departments, wardens, men and women in the prisons, medical personnel in the connection cut areas among other key stakeholders in the prisons. Wide consultation was made from the gerontology and correctional experts, who provided worthy information, vital for the success of the research. The data collected was initially classified to age, type of the offences committed and type of admission.
The information was from 2007 to 2011 and it involved those individuals who have 65 years or more. In 2007, the population of the older inmates was 16100, while in 2010; it soared to 26300, meaning that there was an increase of 63 percent over those 4 years. On the side of the number of imprisonment years, 2009, recorded 13.5% of those elderly inmates imprisoned for 10 to 20 years. Those held for over 20 years were 9.6%, while the rest were below 10 years. However, in 2010, the percent rose by 2.3% and 1.6% respectively. In 2011, the number increased further by 4.6% and 2.5% above the previous year. This reveals that the population of the aged prisoners continues to increase regardless of the government effort.
Plans (effective & efficient solutions ) that Addresses the Problems
The number of the elderly inmates continues to increase in an alarming rate but the correction officials have taken few measures to correct the problem or to ensure that adequate health care facilities and good programs to rehabilitate the inmates are available. Proper and sound decision making is necessary to ensure in future the problem becomes a dream. In 2006, researchers in North Carolina carried out a study on the aging population inmates and they came up with the following strategic plans. They include:
- Examine some of the factors that have contributed to the rapid increase in the inmate population.
- To examine various avenues taken by other countries in solving the ageing population problem.
- Institute various measures necessary in ensuring that the cost of financing elderly inmate is reduced as their conditions improved.
- To examine various resources necessary in ensuring that the divisions dealing with ageing inmates are well equipped.
- To recommend best ways of ensuring that the expenses and costs relating to inmates are fully covered.
- To introduce innovative ways of providing medical services to the inmates
Assessment Methods of Measuring Efficiency
Various methods can be used in measuring the efficiency of the above mentioned solutions to the problems of the ageing populations in the nine states of the USA. The researcher can measure the efficiency by analyzing the data collected through observation and comparing it to the previous year results. Secondly, the efficiency can be measured through comparing the costs and the time taken to provide the resources and medical services to the inmates. The lower values in this case are taken to mean efficiency has been attained.
According to the study we carried out, it’s important for the government to ensure that the rights of the elderly inmates are upheld. They should enjoy adequate protections and proper resource provision to the inmates (Abramsky, 2002). In order for the government of the various federal states should review their constitution to lower the imprisonment period while at the same time ensuring that the public safety is not compromised. Secondly, the prison policies must be reviewed through proper authorization of the correction officials to ensure that they treat the elderly inmates with the dignity they deserve.
The number of elderly inmates within the nine states will continue to grow. This means that the governments of these states will continue to incur extra cost on the inmates. It is their duty to ensure that the inmates’ human rights are adequately followed by the society and all correction officials. Lastly, the government should fully equip the entire elderly inmate cell with necessary facilities so as to have them enjoy their life behind the bars.