Our table shows that more than 10% of people incarcerated in state prisons are 55 or older – and in some states, like Montana, the percentage is much higher.
Prisons and jails have become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, with seven of the ten largest hotspots identified as state prisons and local jails. With the CDC having warned that older adults are at heightened risk for severe complications and death from COVID-19, readers have asked us: Just how many people in state prisons are older adults? We’ve answered this question — state by state — in a handy table below.
To prepare our table, we drew on the most recent age data from the National Corrections Reporting Program, 1991-2015. Age data for state prisons is broken down into categories, and older adults fall into the category of “55 and older.” Although outside of correctional facilities, the term “older adults” often refers to people 65 and older, incarceration itself shortens life expectancy and hastens physiological aging. So for the purposes of addressing how vulnerable different groups are to the coronavirus, it makes sense to consider adults 55 and older behind bars as “older adults.”
More than 10% of people in state prisons are over the age of 55
We found that, on average, more than 10% of people in state prisons are over the age of 55. Some state prison systems have much higher percentages of older adults, like in Montana, where over 17% of the state prison population is 55 years or older.
Regardless of their preexisting health conditions, all older adults are at greater risk for complications from COVID-19. As this virus threatens to turn their prison sentences into death sentences, states should use all possible strategies to release them to the care of their families.
|State||Percent 55 and older||Count 55 and older||Total population||Year|