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WHATA program for elderly inmates where they can engage with other elderly inmates and participate in activities such as wheelchair basketball, pet therapy and even put on plays.
WHYTo recognize the increasing population of elderly in prisons and the unique age related health challenges they face such as limited mobility, arthritis, and dementia.
WHERE North Nevada Correctional Facility (NNCF.)
Carson City, Nevada, USA.

Program Description

"Just as there's elder abuse on the outside, Soules says seniors are often scammed and abused on the inside in regular prisons."

" 'We're a target. We might not be as physically strong as we used to be or as mentally alert or physically alert and because of that the younger gentlemen can take advantage of it.' "

"Just like senior citizens living on the outside, many elderly inmates have health issues such as arthritis, heart problems, emphysema or dementia, conditions that can add significantly to correctional costs." Article:Canada urged to segregate elderly prisoners

The "True Grit" Program was started with the help of the prison's psychologist and the Nevada Division of Aging Services.

Elderly inmates themselves also had a hand in planning the structure of the group and it's name, "True Grit."

Each day involves some combination of physical activity, therapy, and spirituality. Poetry journals are published and plays are produced. "True Grit" also brings in pets for a prisoner pet therapy program.

The "True Grit" Program reports that the number of doctor visits and medications taken by elderly inmates has decreased. The loneliness has been replaced with a support system and they are no longer just sitting around or sleeping all day long.

The complications that come along with aging such as lack of mobility, arthritis, wheelchair use, memory loss from Alzheimer's or other dementia and Parkinson’s disease put elderly in prisons in a unique position.

The costs of keeping an elderly inmate in prison are much higher than those of keeping younger inmates. Since a portion of this cost would be associated with poor physical and mental health, the "True Grit "Program makes sense not only on a human level but also on a economic level as well.

Other prisons in the United States have incorporated nursing homes and hospice programs for terminally ill inmates along with early release programs for elderly.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has published a report called "At America's Expense," and has also released a video on Elderly in Prison. "At America's Expense," provides an federal analysis of what the ACLU believes to be the unnecessary incarceration of aging prisoners and show the cost savings that states could have by releasing elderly prisoners. The cost saving amount averaged out to over $66,000 per year per released prisoner. The report also highlights the low public safety risks posed by elderly prisoners and makes practical legislative solutions that states and the federal government can implement to decrease costs of incarcerating the elderly without putting communities at risk.,


Learn more about the "True Grit Elderly in Prisons" Program by downloading this PDF file

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