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Friday, February 3, 2012 - 11:41am

Aging Prisoners Strain Budgets

A new report by the group Human Rights Watch finds Georgia’s prison population is aging. Eleven percent of those incarcerated are over age 50.

The study finds the number of Georgia prisoners over age 50 has doubled since 1995. Medical costs for those over 65 averages nearly $9,000 a year.

The study’s author Jamie Fellner says nationwide one in 10 prisoners is serving a life sentence, which means taxpayers are on the hook for their care in old age. In 1994 Georgia instituted the two strikes law creating mandatory life sentences for some crimes.

“We have the prison populations that we have not because of crime, crime has gone down consistently. This has nothing to do with crime. It has mostly to do with what are the sentences.”

Fellner says if the trend continues a third of all prisoners will be over age 50 by 2030.