How do surviving crime victims consider the treatment of the one person who changed their lives forever, a criminal in prison? Whether the crime be homicide, assault, or violence of any type, the perpetrator has been convicted and sentenced to time behind bars. Where do we draw the line between punishment for the crime and the humane treatment of another?
As more and more of the incarcerated become senior citizens in prison, the costs to house them rise as well, by approximately three times the expense of younger prisoners. Older prisoners become vulnerable and neglected, often faced with increased violence of fellow inmates, but there aren’t enough services addressing this unique situation, as well as the quandary of the ethical treatment of a fellow human being vs accountability for their crime.
The other side of the dilemma is when elderly inmates are released there are often few resources available, families have dispersed, and they are faced with more uncertainty about their welfare than when they were in prison.
Shattered Lives Radio listeners will hear both sides of the issue with guest Tina Maschi and Shattered Lives host and homicide survivor, Donna R. Gore.
Tina Maschi has written and recorded the following song, “We are All Aging Prisoners” to address the ethical issue of humanely treating aging prisoners.
Tina Maschi, Ph.D., LCSW, ACSW is an Associate Professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service, New York Academy of Medicine Fellow, and the President of the National Organization of Forensic Social Work. Her research interests center around the intersection of aging, mental health, and the criminal justice system, particularly the influence of life course trauma on later life health and well-being. We will be discussing aging and healthcare issues in prison.
She is the lead author of the book, Social Worker and Researcher: Integrating Research with Advocacy with Dr. Robert Youdin. Her upcoming coauthored book with Dr. Allison Zippay is on qualitative research for social work.
With some 246,000 men and women over 50 in America’s overly stretched prison system, should we as a society consider releasing the fragile, the ill, and the dying among these prisoners?
Gerontological social workers who work in or intersect with the criminal justice system are well-positioned to provide the expertise in practice and policy advocacy needed to address the human rights and social justice issues that are adversely impacting the well-being of aging prisoners during prison and community reintegration (Snyder, van Wormer, Chada, & Jaggers, 2008). Unfortunately, there are not enough of them yet to meet the demand.Dr. Maschi also has over 10 years of clinical social work experience in community mental health and correctional settings, including the use of the arts for individual and social change.
The State of Aging: Prisoners and Compassionate Release Programs (Huffington Post)
Tina Maschi is a Public Voices Fellow with the Op-Ed Project.
For more on aging in the criminal justice system, see here.