The Aging in Prison

Posted: July 7, 2013 by Ed Griffin in Prison, Reform
Tags: , , , , , , ,

At a prison I taught at, there was an old man, call him Mr. Carter. Every morning as I came into the prison he pushed a broom along the walkway. The way he walked I knew he was older – I should know, I’m a month short of 77.

One day I got talking with him. He told me he was nearing the end of a ten year bit, and they transferred him to a minimum prison. His only daughter called him and told him she was about to have a very serious operation the next day. Mr. Carter walked out of the prison the next morning and walked to the nearest city where he could catch a bus. But as he walked, he realized he’d made a mistake, so he turned around and walked back to the prison.

Did they thank him for returning? Did they take him to the hospital to see his daughter? Did they warn him not to do it again? None of those things. They added time to his sentence for escaping.

I think Mr. Carter could have made a case that he was worried and confused and should receive no punishment.

aging in prison    I’m wandering off the subject I want to talk about – the aging in prison. I think about myself – dependent on my family doctor and on prostate cancer specialists. Old people need doctors, but medical care in prisons is very second rate. Another inmate I know has to wait months to see a specialist. This is health care build on cost and on the availability of guards to take an inmate to a doctor.

I received an excellent website from a group in the States. It’s called Aging Behind Aging in PrisonBars. I wanted to bring some of their data over to my website, but my technology failed me. Please take a look at their website. If clicking it doesn’t work, paste it into your browser.


I don’t know what I can do about this problem. Any suggestions?

Images courtesy of:


  1. iarxiv says:

    Thanks for writing about this topic… I am surprised they added to his sentence – seems a bit unnecessary and harsh. Sadly, I suspect he didn’t make a case that he ‘was worried and confused and should receive no punishment’ precisely because he *was* genuinely worried and confused. It’s sad that others (the system? state lawyers?) didn’t jump in to make the case for him.

    I’ve clicked on the website you linked to and will look at it now.

  2. Joanne says:

    I think the biggest problem might be the lack of advocates for people who end up needing assistance with decision-making, especially when it comes to healthcare. It can be difficult for family members to intervene in prison healthcare, like they often do in the community.

    The other very sad occurrence from my point of view is when prisoners die alone in prison of chronic diseases, such as cancer, even though it is clear they are too weak to commit any offences and this is likely the last thing on their minds. Sadly, this happens quite a bit.

    • Ed Griffin says:

      Thank you, Joanne. You put it so well “too sick to commit crime”
      You also raise a point I never thought of. In our family we are all involved in each other’s medical problems. That would be almost impossible in prison. How could the family talk to the doctor?

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