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Jails and Prisons
Why keep elderly convicts behind bars?

To the editor: As a researcher seeking to improve the justice system, I agree wholeheartedly with much of what Newt Gingrich and B. Wayne Hughes Jr. say about the incarceration of low-level offenders in California. Unfortunately, they fail to mention one of the most rapidly growing prison populations: the elderly, who suffer behind bars. ("What California can learn from the red states on crime and punishment," Op-Ed, Sept. 16) Many of these inmates cost at least twice as much to house as younger inmates because of injury (from, for example, falls), chronic medical conditions or mental health problems like dementia. Yet most are denied parole or even compassionate release for...

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