Sept. 8, 2014

“The aging prison population represents a national human-made epidemic decades in the making. …

“Our current trajectory is economically infeasible and morally untenable….

“Although there is no commonly agreed-upon age at which an incarcerated individual is ‘old’ – definitions range from 50 to 65 – it is clear that the number of people in prison requiring significant age-related medical care will continue to rise at a substantial rate. From 1995 to 2010, the U.S. prison population aged 55 or older nearly quadrupled….

“On average, it costs approximately twice as much to incarcerate someone aged 50 and over ($68,270) than a younger, more able-bodied individual ($34,135)….

“The elderly in prison also demonstrate a greater risk of injury, victimization, ailing health, and death than their younger counterparts….

“The phenomenon of accelerated aging, which can be attributed to the prevalence of environmental stressors coupled with a lack of access to holistic healthcare, means that the body of an incarcerated 50-year-old has a ‘physiological age’ that is 10 to 15 years older….

“The stated objectives of incarceration would suggest that correctional spending should be allocated among demographics in proportion to their public safety risk and potential for behavioral change.

“Aging adults in prison have the lowest recidivism rate and pose almost no threat to public safety. Nationwide, 43.3 percent of all released individuals recidivate within three years, while only 7 percent of those aged 50-64 are returned to prison for new convictions….”

– From “The High Costs of Low Risk: The Crisis of America’s Aging Prison Population” prepared by the Osborne Association (July 2014) (Hat tip, the New York Times)

Today is Andrew Junior Chandler’s 57th birthday. He has been in prison since he was 29 years old. Even if he were guilty – which he clearly is not – how can the State of North Carolina justify his continued incarceration?