Elderly Non-Violent Drug Offenders Sentenced to Prison
The Oklahoman has an article today highlighting elderly non-violent defendants in drug cases who are sentenced to terms that, due to their age, amount to a life sentence. Often, these seniors' offense is selling their own lawfully obtained precription pills.
Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control spokesman Mark Woodward said the argument is sometimes made that selling prescriptions becomes the only way for the elderly to supplement Social Security benefits and make money.
The medical costs for elderly prisoners are huge. "According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1999 and 2007 the number of people 55 or older in state and federal prisons grew 76.9 percent."
A 2004 report by the National Institute of Corrections found he annual cost to imprison an older person was an estimated $70,000. (B. Jaye Anno et al., Correctional Health Care: Addressing the Needs of Elderly, Chronically Ill, and Terminally Ill Inmates (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, 2004).
Surely there must be a better way.
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