Ageing prisoners: An introduction to geriatric health-care challenges in correctional facilities

The rise in the number of older prisoners in many nations has been described as a correctional "ageing crisis" which poses an urgent financial, medical and programmatic challenge for correctional health-care systems. In 2016, the International Committee of the Red Cross hosted a conference entitled "Ageing and Imprisonment: Identifying the Needs of Older Prisoners" to discuss the institutional, legal and health-care needs of incarcerated older adults, and the approaches some correctional facilities have taken to meeting these needs. This article describes some of the challenges facing correctional systems tasked with providing health care to older adults, highlights some strategies to improve their medical care, and identifies areas in need of reform. It draws principally on research and examples from the United States to offer insights and recommendations that may be considered in other systems as well.

About the authors

Rachael Bedard
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Dr Rachael Bedard, MD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Education at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and a Geriatrics and Palliative Care Specialist in the jails on Riker’s Island for the New York City Department of Correctional Health Services.

Lia Metzger
University of California

Lia Metzger, BA, is an Assistant Clinical Research Coordinator in the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Division of Geriatrics. Ms Metzger supports research projects focused on health care for older adults in the criminal justice system under Dr Brie Williams of the UCSF.

Dr Brie Williams

Dr Brie Williams, MD, MS, is a Professor of Medicine in the Division of Geriatrics, Founding Director of the Criminal Justice & Health Program at UCSF, and Director of the UCSF Criminal Justice Aging Project of Tideswell at UCSF. Dr Williams works with collaborators from the criminal justice, public safety and legal fields to apply academic medicine, geriatrics and palliative care to transform criminal justice health care through policydriven research and education.