It is a well-known fact that the most immediate and evident challenge facing older prisoners relates to decline in mental and physical health. Moreover, considering the accelerated biological aging process, inmates who are chronologically 50 years of age is expected to exhibit the start of age-related health issues.The health problems that correctional agencies have to deal with include dealing with chronic illnesses / terminal illness, fear of death, pain management, decreased the level of mobility, disabilities and cognitive impairment (UNODC, 2009).
The prison environment and programs were designed to cater to the needs of younger offenders. Failure to have the right and meaningful programs for elderly prisoners is an issue for the correctional agencies more so when it comes to the provision of a wide range of programs like education, vocation &exercise. Majority of prison education programs are based on literacy & numeracy skills (targeting younger offenders) & the physical education offered are too challenging/unsuitable for the elderly prisoners, who may be forced to contend with younger prisoners dominating exercise equipment (Criminology, 2011)
About the increasing numbers of older prisoners, it has been noted that high health care costs are a grave concern for the policymakers, correctional agencies, and the government. According to a study that was carried out in Australia and the United States, it was noted that the expenses of accommodating the elderly prisoners was roughly three times higher than it was for the younger prisoners. This might be regarding employing specialized staff (i.e.,.in palliative care or gerontology). It has been estimated that it costs roughly $25,000 annually to house a young offender while the expenses for housing an older prisoner is roughly $ 72,000 a year(Aday, 2013, p, 47).
Available research shows that the elderly prisoners more so those having limited mobility, frailty & disability are viewed by other & themselves to be more vulnerable to victimization than the young prisoners. Correctional facilities are struggling with the issue of not having trained prison staff or those trained reluctant to pushing wheelchairs hence exposing the dependent wheelchair- prisoners to victimization. An interview conducted among older inmates in the UK & US showed that more than half the elderly prisoners had experienced bullying &intimidation’ and more than 60 % felt unsafe.
As it was noted earlier, the older prisoners are likely to suffer from chronic illness due to their age, and as a result, they require specialized services. Trained personnel will need to be hired to look out for their needs minimizing their suffering (Aday, 2013, p, 97). Alternative programs which align with the needs & conditions of the elderly needs to be developed.
The reported merits of having such units are the same to that of nursing home prisons. These units have a centralized resource that lowers expenses related to staffing, medical care, transportation, & age-segregation of prisoners hence minimizing the challenges of victimization. This enhances a more enabling targeted programming & rehabilitation initiative.
The correctional agencies require more funding so as to be best placed to cater to the broad needs of the aging prisoners who have more needs that the younger offenders.
Security Threat Groups have been reported to represent a growing problem to the safety and security of correctional institutions. The challenges are expressed in various forms and which ranges from involvement in major incident, distribution of drugs, increased rates of violence, higher rates of racial & ethnic, tensions, undermining the rehabilitative programming by supporting criminogenic principles, engaging in criminal business, & contributing to the collapse of community reintegration in the event the parolees return to gang activities when released (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2009).
According to a recent study by the Department of Corrections for Washington State indicated that Security Threat Groups represented roughly 23% of Washington’s 19,000 inmates. However, they accounted for 46% of all the major violent incidents in the prisons (Dininny, 2009). In line with this finding, Fischer (2012) observed that between 1994 and 2000, prison gang members in Arizona’s Department of Corrections were 78% likely to take part in serious violence than non-gang members.
This aspect poses an enormous challenge to the safe operation of penitentiaries to the degree to which Security Threat Groups attempts to compromise prison employees’ through their use of associates within the society. Wilkinson and Delgado (2011), for example, said that gang members collectively attempted to manipulate and intimidate prison officials. Another example is the 1997 and 2001 killing of correctional officers Diane Lavigne and Pierre Rondeau by the Hell’s Angels. This illustrates depths to which Security Threat Groups will reach into the society to warn, injure, or kill correctional officials.
Security Threat Groups may also try to sabotage the rehabilitative program within a facility.) It was established that for example, that gangs involved juveniles tries to undercut educational or therapeutic programs (Colon, 2004, p, 39). There is a high possibility that similar behaviors do happen in adult corrections. A similar study from the Correctional Service of Canada (2009) pointed out that gang members placed priority on illegal activities instead of rehabilitation and reintegration programs. Such action, in turn, discourages other prisoners from taking part in case management plans, rehabilitation, and reintegration.
It should be noted that, just like other types of criminal activities, that the root cause of STGs are mostly complicated. However, regardless of the strategies to used, it needs to be accompanies by adequate funding plus well trained and skilled employees to adequately respond to dealing with the threats posed by having STG. Moreover, the right resources need to be availed so that all actions are adequately boosted. For instance, employee shortages, overcrowding, and cut-backs on resource, would undermine the success of any gang management strategy (Carlson, & Garrett, 2012). Lastly, just like all social issues, what is ultimately required is collaborative &cooperative mechanism to solve the sophisticated nature of Security Threat Groups and prison gangs within today’s correctional facilities.
Aday R .2013. Aging Prisoners: Crisis in American Corrections. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger
Carlson, P. M., & Garrett, J. S. (2012). Prison and jail administration: Practice and theory. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett Pub.
Colon, T. (2004, April). Gang members in juvenile detention: A California Story. Presented at The Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Symposium, California State University, Chico.
Criminology, A. I. (2011, August 24). Older prisoners—A challenge for Australian corrections. Retrieved October 26, 2016, from Australian Institute of Criminology: http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tandi/421-440/tandi426.html
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2009. Handbook on prisoners with special needs. New York: United Nations
Wilkinson, R.A. & Delgardo, A. (2006). Prison gang and drug investigations: An Ohio approach. Corrections Today, 36-40