Aged prisoners facing uncertainty after release

We don’t often think about people who have served decades-long prison sentences. You might be surprised to learn that instead of feeling the freedom of release, many long-time prisoners are nervous to re-enter the world; they sweat on the subway surrounded by the crowd and fearing judgment. Eventually, they might be negatively affected by the years of healthcare neglect, according to this September Gothamist article.

Indeed, as this article notes, at Jan. 1, 2013, the average age of both male and female inmates in New York State Department of Corrections was about 38 years old and about 17 percent of inmates were over the age of 50.

For older former prisoners, a place to live after release is a concern. As is getting a job. One woman didn’t know how to use the internet. Another ex-prisoner had at one time considered a job as a printer:

Before his arrest in 1978, Farid had worked as an offset printer. “During my time inside, I had considered not only working as a printer [upon my release], but possibly starting my own business,” he recalled. He soon discovered that the printing industry had all but disappeared and, with it, his hopes for employment.

Aged prisoners also need to be made aware of what they need to put in place to survive on the outside—and before they get released. What documents do they need to get a driver’s license and obtain health insurance? A focus on re-entry services is ideal, such as the Aging Reentry Task Force noted in the article, if we, as a society, want people not to desire returning to the structured, though punitive, lives they knew while in prison.

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