77 year-old Curtis Ballard still has 14 years left on his prison sentence, and is housed in an assisted living prison facility where his extensive medical needs can be addressed. He doesn’t mind being incarcerated, because he notes that if he were freed, he’d “be a burden on [his] kids”.
Long term care issues are becoming more common in prison settings as the average age of inmates increase, thanks to longer prison stays. In Colorado, the average age of prisoners rose by three years for men and four years for women between 1987 and 1999, and this appears to be similar to the national trend.
The ACLU estimates that it takes $72,000/year to house an elderly inmate, and this is similar to what a year in a nursing home costs. Prisons aren’t the only places that are being impacted by the rising cost of long term care – it’s a problem facing all of us as we age, and the cost of long term care has appeared to be recession-proof, showing no signs of decreasing.