The number of aging people in New York State prisons is skyrocketing, confining thousands of seniors to cruel and degrading conditions, wasting financial and human resources, and doing nothing to enhance public safety.
• The number of incarcerated people ages 50+ in New York has increased 98% from 2000 to 2016, even as the total number of people locked up has fallen about 27% during the same period. Today, more than 17% of incarcerated men and 15% of incarcerated women in the New York prison system are over 50 years of age. Those percentages continue to rise every year.
This is an unnecessary crisis. Many of these elders could—and should—be released. New York routinely denies parole and compassionate release to elders behind bars, even though they pose no risk to public safety and are fully prepared to successfully re-enter and contribute to society.
• The recidivism rate (rate at which released people return to prison) of people who have served long sentences for serious felonies is 1.3%—lower than any other category of those released. And many of these elders can make meaningful contributions not only to their families, but to the entire New York community. Already throughout New York, many creative and vigorous efforts on prison reform are led by formerly incarcerated people.
RAPP is mobilizing advocates, formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families, and concerned citizens to demand that New York release incarcerated elders who have served considerable time and pose no threat to public safety. Our coalition meets the first Wednesday of every month. See our events page for details, and join us!