Aging inmates require increasing levels of care, and also carry a significant cost to the prison system, in the neighborhood of $16 billion a year, according to the ACLU. Reducing prison sentences in Maryland saved $185 million over five years. “It’s hard to say exactly how much we’re spending keeping the elderly and sick locked up,” Maschi told me. “But it costs $68,000 a year to keep an aging person in prison, whereas it’s only $22,000 for a younger person.”
But even once compassionate release is granted, it can be tough for former inmates to find places to go. They may not have families or friends to take them in, and in some hospital settings, “even if they’re dying,” Maschi said, “they can be denied treatment.”
In 2017, Connecticut’s 60 West nursing facility became the country’s first program to transition the aging and terminally ill who were granted compassionate release to a nursing home––to earn federal funding.
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