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Aging prisoners make up fastest growing segment of nation's prison population

Nathan Brown (his real name has been changed at the request of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, both to protect him and the identity of people and victims associated with his crime), a prisoner at Rhode Island's John J. Moran Medium Security Prison, plays chess against another inmate on December 10, 2013 in Cranston, Rhode Island. Brown is 75 years old and is serving 55 consecutive years for first degree sexual assault; he arrived in prison in 1992. Brown denies he committed the crime for which he was convicted and refuses to go through a sexual rehabilitation program necessary to be eligible for parole. However, he does admit to serving time in jail prior to his current conviction for assault and weapons possessions. Brown is a trained carpenter, enjoys working in the prison library and also works in the prison's laundry facility. He is also blind in one eye, suffers from arthritis, has had numerous knee surgeries and is currently suffering from an ear infection. Of John J. Moran Medium Security prison's 1020 inmates, approximately 50 are 65 or older.  Getty Images/Andrew Burton

Aging prisoners make up fastest growing segment of nation's prison population

Yahoo NewsDecember 11, 2013

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world - as of 2010 the national prison population was approximately 2.26 million people. According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch report, between 1995 and 2010, the total number of state and federal prisoners increased by 42%, while the number of prisoners 55-and-older skyrocketed by 282% to 124,400 prisoners. The reasons for the dramatic rise in the elderly incarcerated date back to the 1970s through the 1990s, when "tough on crime" policies were enacted and the "war on drugs" was declared. Since then, mandatory-minimum sentencing, three-strike laws and life-without-parole have become popular techniques to keep those in prison behind bars, causing a rapid growth in the prison populate - including the aging and elderly. (Getty)

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