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.

Check out these photographic exhibitions of aging and ill prisoners: Tim Gruber's Served Out – Aging and Dying Behind Bars and Grace Before Dying [More...].

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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  • Display: Sort:
    But first the people selling (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by oculus on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 01:12:42 AM EST
    the prescription meds must pay for the meds or at least the co-pay.

    The beauty... (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 09:20:04 AM EST
    of the prescription system...sky high black market prices.  Well...beauty for CCA and buy/sellers who don't get caught anyway:)

    actually, i suspect this is a plan, (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 07:53:04 PM EST
    by elderly, indigent folks, to get free medical care, a roof over their heads, and three squares a day, for the rest of their lives. the best part is that the state law enforcement, judiciary and penal system is falling for it, hook, line and sinker.

    I can't imagine... (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by kdog on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 09:15:11 AM EST
    anybody being that desperate for a bed or some food.  Suicide is a better option, or pulling a bank heist.

    Prison health care is substandard, though... (none / 0) (#4)
    by jeffinalabama on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 07:54:08 AM EST
    especially in southern states like Oklahoma (or Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, etc.)

    These are simply draconian sentences. The idea is to punish, punish, punish.


    Is this a serious comment? (none / 0) (#8)
    by sj on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 11:46:52 AM EST
    Some of those images are... (none / 0) (#2)
    by desertswine on Sun Apr 03, 2011 at 08:08:11 PM EST
    simply heartbreaking.

    Criminalizing... (none / 0) (#7)
    by kdog on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 10:18:57 AM EST
    what is by any objective measure a reasonable honest living.  Just like Tunisia.

    I guess somebody needs to set themselves on fire to make people see how wrong this is...beyond wrong, you could even call it evil.

    depends (none / 0) (#10)
    by diogenes on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 06:01:08 PM EST
    If the seniors paid cash for their prescriptions and then resold them, perhaps it's honest.  If the seniors bought them with Medicare/Medicaid public money and resold them, then it's theft.  Insurance is meant to pay for medically necessary medication, not to pay for someone to go into business.

    This country sucks. (none / 0) (#9)
    by Chuck0 on Mon Apr 04, 2011 at 01:20:39 PM EST
    Oklahoma even more so.