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Aging Prisoners Make Up Fastest Growing Segment Of Nation's Prison Population

VACAVILLE, CA - DECEMBER 17: (Editorial Use Only) John Gillis (the prisoner's name has been changed at his request), age 73, a hospice care patient diagnosed with terminal colon cancer, takes his daily medication in the hospice care wing of California Medical Facility (CMF) on December 17, 2013 in Vacaville, California. Gillis is serving a 30 year sentence for a crime he chose to not disclose. He was diagnosed with cancer in April 2013; doctors currently expect him to live another three months. Gillis says he has lost 70 pounds over the last six weeks, though he won't take pain medication. Gillis believes terminal patients should be allowed out of prison, stating, "there's no need for [holding terminal patients in prison] - who's a threat to society in here?" While California has a compasionate release program for terminal patients in the last six months of life, the decision is ultimately made by judges, who frequently deny the request. CMF's hospice was the first of it's kind, originally created in the 1980s during the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The program currently holds 17 beds. When a patient arrives in CMF's hospice, doctors immediately apply for compassionate release. As of June 2013, California had 133,000 prisoners, of which 15,000 were over the age of 55. The U.S. incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, and as of 2010 the national prison population was 2.26 million people. According to Human Rights Watch, between 1995 and 2010 the total number of state and federal prisoners incresased by 42%, while the number of prisoners 55-and-older skyrocketed by 282%. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Aging Prisoners Make Up Fastest Growing Segment Of Nation's Prison Population


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Getty Images News
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December 17, 2013
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Getty Images North America
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