1/3 of US Prison population geriatric by 2030

Caroline Yang for NPR
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When Andre Gay went to state prison in Pennsylvania in 1972, he was just 16 years old, sentenced to life without parole for murder and aggravated robbery.

“I was a kid when I came to jail,” he says, “so I was basically a blank slate.”

Gay learned from the older men there, whom he called his elders. They would hold classes together every day on all kinds of topics: politics, economics, religion, law.

Then he became an elder himself. There were some telltale signs of age — stiffness and pain in the joints, sciatica, flagging stamina — but he felt relatively healthy. For years, he saw his reflection only in a scratched-up metal mirror. One day, he caught a glimpse of himself in a real mirror.

“I literally did not recognize who I was looking at. I had changed so much. It was so disconcerting that it stayed in my head all this time,” Gay says. “I didn’t realize I had aged that much. I didn’t realize I had that much gray.”

Prison is a difficult environment, and people behind bars tend to age faster than people on the outside. For that reason, “geriatric” in prison can mean someone as young as 50, though it varies by state.

Any way you define it, the U.S. prison population is getting grayer — and fast.

Read more at NPR.org

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Chuck comes from a lineage of journalism. He has written for some of the webs most popular news sites. He enjoys spending time outdoors, bull riding, and collecting old vinyl records. Roll Tide!