In many countries, the proportion of older persons in prison is rising. Their needs are mostly overlooked, leading to their human rights, including the right to dignity, being violated.
Traditionally, those over 50 are categorised as older persons in prison due in part to ‘accelerated ageing’ in prisons. Older persons are a diverse and complex population in criminal justice system, requiring specific responses addressing health, end-of-life and hospice care and questions of release. Prisons are designed for younger and able people, from infrastructure to rehabilitation activities, leaving older persons with challenges in meeting their basic needs and prevented from prison activities.
Although it is difficult to find figures for the number of older persons in prison, the number of life sentences is increasing. This heightens the importance of considering the needs of older persons not only in prisons but in criminal justice systems as a whole.
As part of our 2020-2023 strategy we seek to address the needs of older persons in terms of sentencing, imprisonment and release to ensure their rights are protected. This will include highlighting end-of-life care and release mechanisms linked to the increase in numbers of life-sentenced people. We aim to engage with advocacy groups working on the rights of older persons to ensure those in prison are not forgotten.