Elderly Criminals: Where to Now?

Elderly Do Well in Zephyrhills

Due to a lack of financial resources, it seems that some elderly criminals currently housed at Zephyrhills Correctional Institution, (on the edge of Tampa), Florida.  It has the capacity for about 700 prisoners, many of whom are seniors.  The problem however with the elderly population in general, is that they are way more expensive to care for than the average younger inmate, since they usually have many more health issues including diabetes and Alzheimers which require significant financial resources to manage effectively.

Plus, it seems like these individuals are more than happy to live out their days in the Zephyrhills Correctional Institution.  Gus Mazorra, a warden there, says the care received is excellent and it seems the inmates themselves would not disagree.  One criminal – put away for first degree murder – said the treatment he gets there is the best he’s ever received.  They have nurses on staff for monitoring and medication dispensation as well as a fair amount of preventative care in many cases.  In a recent CBS news article, a nurse, Mary Farr, LPN, said, “so we can keep an eye on them better before they get so sick that we catch them before they go to the hospital, which costs a lot of money. And most of the stuff hospitals so, we can do for them here, if we catch it early enough.”

Too Expensive

It seems though however, these criminals may be running out of luck.  The Department of Corrections is desperate to find ways to save money and the state of Florida is really struggling with the growing prison population. Thus legislators are currently trying to work out different ways of paying for all of this.  It has now been suggested that some of these costly elderly inmates be released early in an effort to reduce these costs.  This controversial proposal of course, has been met with much disdain amongst various individuals. But there are some who see it as a possible solution.  As Senator Chris Smith rightly pointed out, “right now the only people in Florida who have universal health care are these elderly, infirmed prisoners and we're spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on these people just to keep them locked up.”  Thus Smith’s proposed bill would enable prisoners over 60 who have served more than two-and-a-half decades and are sick, to petition the Parole Commission for early release.