Amber Colibaba is Research Coordinator of the Rural Aging Research Program at Trent University, Canada, where she is also Coordinator of the Trent Centre for Aging & Society. She graduated with the Collaborative Specialization in Aging Studies from the Master of Arts in Sustainability Studies program at Trent with a research interest in rural aging, voluntarism and community development.
Community reintegration of previously incarcerated older adults: Exploratory insights from a Canadian community residential facility program
Amber Colibaba, Trent University, Canada
Mark Skinner, Trent University, Canada
Gillian Balfour, King’s University College at Western University, Canada
David Byrne, Centennial College, Canada
Crystal Dieleman, Dalhousie University, Canada
Globally, there is an increasing proportion of incarcerated older adults within correctional institutions due to longer criminal sentences and repeated offences, not to mention population aging more generally. In Canada, for instance, Correctional Service Canada (CSC) reports that while the incarcerated population is relatively young (20% between 50 and 64 years and 5% over 65 years) in comparison to the broader Canadian population of older adults (17% over 65 years), the population of older adults within correctional institutions is steadily growing.
While there are strategies in place to support this aging population they are inside correctional institutions. What is missing is a better understanding of the contexts and experiences of older individuals as they are released from correctional facilities and begin to navigate their reintegration back into society.
This paper addresses the immediate gap in knowledge about community reintegration of previously incarcerated older adults, by focusing on the experiences and perspectives of older adults, staff members and community stakeholders from a CSC contracted community residential facility program (Haley House) in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.
Findings from qualitative interviews from Haley House residents, staff and stakeholders (N=20) provide insights into challenges related to community reintegration for formerly incarcerated older adults. Specifically, aging-related (access to Old Age Pension, serious/chronic medical conditions), continuum of support (lack of release planning within correctional institutions) and stigma (denial of access to long-term care) challenges speak to the barriers this aging population faces as they re-enter the community from Canadian correctional institutions, seeking both medical and social supports.
The paper presents emergent questions for research, policy and practice, which seeks to advance the field of study as it related to aging and community reintegration.