ELDER PRISONERS – A SIGNIFICANT GROUP, A MARGINALIZED MINORITY OR A CHALLENGE FOR THE PRISON SYSTEM
Abstract: Execution of a prison sentence is a complex process burdened with a series of problems, which are multiplied when it comes to the elderly, whose share in the prison population around the world is growing rapidly. Prisons and treatment programs are designed for younger people, as the dominant part of the prison population. Elderly people face numerous problems during penal treatment, such as: outdated architectural solutions, overcrowding, victimization, inappropriate accommodation, severance of family ties, difficult access to justice, inadequate health care and lack of individualized programs to prepare for release. There are also difficulties that are a consequence of earlier risky lifestyles and the aging process: impaired health, alcoholism, addiction to psychotropic substances, poverty of social interactions, impaired mobility, helplessness, depression, fear of death, especially death in prison, etc. The unfavorable position in prison calls into question the respect for the human rights of elderly convicts, but also the possibility of quality corrective engagement and successful social reintegration. It therefore insists on the development of strategies to reduce the imprisonment of the elderly, as well as to adapt prison treatment to their specific needs. Adequate response to the special needs of older prisoners and overcoming the existing marginal status is a major challenge that requires training prison staff to work with them and special attention in classifying, accommodating, creating and implementing treatment programs, solving security problems, improving health care, maintaining family ties and realization of the program of preparation for dismissal.
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