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Monday, March 26, 2012

The ageing population (in prison)


I am spending much of my time understanding the challenges that organisations have as their customers and employees age. As I have said many times – understanding and acting upon the physiological factors of ageing will dwarf all of the other issues that we loosely describe as ‘marketing to older people’.

There is one type of institution and one type of ‘customer’ that I have never considered, that is before reading an article in today’s New York Times. I am still in the US so much of what I am writing about is initiated by things I am reading, hearing and seeing in America.

According to a report from Human Rights Watch (Old Behind Bars) , in 2010 roughly 125,000 of the US’s  1.5 million inmates were 55 years of age and over. This represented a 282% increase between 1995 and 2010, compared with a 42% increase in the overall inmate population.  
The fear that this number of old and increasingly frail (mentally and physically) inmates will create massive problems for a system that was never designed to cope with older people.
Another study found that the annual average health care cost per prisoner is about $5,500; about $11,000 for inmates aged 55 to 59 and $40,000 for inmates 80 or older. So no only is a problem because of lack of facilities it has a big cost implication.
I guess that prisons are not insulated from demographic change so we should not be surprised to read about these problems. Dick Stroud

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