Older prison inmates run up state health costs

Capital News Service
LANSING — The number of prisoners older than 50 has increased 146 percent since 1998, according to Michigan prison officials. This jump from 3,589 prisoners in that age group to 8,819 in 2014 creates a number of health care and cost challenges for state prisons, said Chris Gautz, public information officer for the Department of Corrections. The aging of inmates between 1994 and when she retired in 2012 was stark, said Carol Howes, a retired warden who worked at the Lakeland and Coldwater prisons. “The prisoner population was much sicker,” she said. Lakeland houses elderly inmates and it wouldn’t be uncommon for them to arrive from a hospital for post-operative care, Howes said.

Prisons, community colleges team up for classes

Capital News Service
LANSING – More community colleges are partnering with the Department of Corrections to educate inmates in hopes of boosting their chances success after release. Inmates qualified for college-level work are using prison classrooms typically used for substance abuse or GED preparation to further their education. Last fall, a pilot program was launched that offered Jackson Community College courses at G. Robert Cotton Correctional Facility in Jackson. Daniel Heyns, Corrections director, said, “The teachers enjoy doing it. The people that are enrolled are motivated students – I’ve heard it said even more motivated than free students.”
He said, “Maybe they value the opportunity a little more.”
Kevin Rose, who teaches computer courses and advises inmates through Jackson Community College, said, “The students were much more engaged and enthusiastic than what I would typically see.”
Rose said the prisoners have a greater appreciation for education than his average students.

State prisons adapting to graying, infirm inmates

Capital News Service
LANSING — When you imagine a state prison inmate, you might think of someone young and tough with arms covered in tattoos and muscles swollen from hours of pumping iron in the yard. How about wrinkled and gray with arthritic hands gripping a walker or spinning the wheels on a wheelchair? Despite an overall decline in prison population, the number of inmates above the age of 65 has increased 78 percent to 1,073 during the past decade. Those inmates make up about 2.5 percent of the prison system, but with more baby boomers entering old age, that number will only go up, officials warn. It’s a fact the Department of Corrections can’t ignore.