As people grow old in prison, their housing and medical care costs increase exponentially. This aging of the prison population due to excessive sentences has been well documented. Several states have adopted geriatric and medical parole policies aimed at reducing the number of older individuals in prison, but very few people have been released on compassionate grounds, and these policies are largely ineffective at reducing imprisonment.
There is a wide body of evidence demonstrating that criminal behavior declines with age. Prison sentences that keep people incarcerated well beyond their “crime-prone” years are providing no additional public safety benefits. This is borne out in the incredibly low recidivism rates for people released from prison after serving long sentences.
Research has found that longer prison sentences do not deter future criminal offending. At least one study has documented that longer sentences promote criminality. The evolving consensus in the field of criminal justice is that people are not deterred by the severity of the punishment (sentence length), but rather the certainty and swiftness of receiving a sanction.