At America's Expense: The Mass Incarceration of the Elderly

Document Date: June 13, 2012

At America’s Expense compiles extensive data detailing epidemic of aging prisoners in the United States. It provides a comprehensive 50-state and federal analysis of the unnecessary incarceration of aging prisoners and provides a fiscal analysis showing the actual amount states would save, on average, by releasing aging prisoners: over $66,000 per year per released prisoner. The report also includes new data showing that the elderly population is growing because of harsh sentencing laws and not because of new crimes, as well as data highlighting the low public safety risks posed by elderly prisoners. At America’s Expense supplies detailed and practical legislative solutions that states and the federal government can implement to address the dramatic and costly growth in the number of elderly prisoners without putting communities at risk.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Findings & Recommendations
  3. Acknowledgments & Methodology
  4. The Aging Prison Population & Its Consequences
    1. Demographics of a Rapidly Graying Prison Population
      1. Prison Population by Age
      2. Gender & Race of Aging Prisoners
    2. Lower Public Safety Risks of Aging Prisoners
      1. Crimes Committed & Time Served by Aging Prisoners
      2. Crime Declines Precipitously With Age for All Crimes
    3. The High Costs of Incarcerating the Elderly
      1. State Fiscal Impact Analysis
      2. Additional Considerations: Federal & Local Fiscal Impact and Societal Impact
    4. How We Ended Up Here
  5. Recommendations
    1. Short-Term Reforms
      1. Grant Conditional Release for Aging Prisoners Who Pose Little Safety Risk
      2. Utilize & Expand Medical Parole
      3. Increase Accountability & Transparency of Parole Boards
      4. Reauthorize & Expand Federal Aging Prisoner Release
    2. Systemic Reform: Rethink Our Disproportionate Sentencing Paradigm
      1. Repeal Mandatory Minimum Laws
      2. Repeal Habitual Offender Laws
      3. Repeal Truth-in-Sentencing Laws
  6. Conclusion
  7. Appendix: Model Conditional Release of Aging Prisoners Act