Dr Bruce A. Stevens (PhD Boston University, 1987) is the Wicking Professor of Ageing and Practical Theology at Charles Sturt University, Canberra, Australia. He was ordained in the Anglican Church in 1980 and served in parish ministry until 1993. He is an endorsed clinical and forensic psychologist, who has written seven books for publishers such as Random House, Harper Collins, PsychOz Publications, Australian Academic Press and Wiley-Blackwell. He is with Shayleen and he has four adult children. He is an active member of Wesley Uniting Church.
Old Behind Bars: A Systematic Review of International Services to those in Prison
Internationally, the aged are the fastest growing segment of the prison population. There are contributions from mandatory minimum sentences, longer sentences for serious crimes and a reluctance to release some offenders back into society. Older prisoners are a diverse group including: (a) first time offenders, (b) aged recidivist, (c) serving long or life sentences, and (d) incarcerated for short periods late in life. So it is hard to have a single response to this complex problem. Obviously this is a vulnerable and often victimized group of people. This presentation will report on a systematic review of programs for the aged in prison. The results of the study indicated that there are inadequate resources for ageing prisoners in facilities built for much younger people. How does a person in a wheel chair get down stairs to enter the court-yard? How can he or she use a walking stick or walking frame when such objects might be considered potential weapons? The issues continue with medical and mental health needs (naturally both are more prevalent inside). There is a potential for victimization. This is especially the case when sex offenders, who tend to be older when convicted and are among the most stigmatized in our society. There has been report of prisoners expecting payment to provide basic assistance to aged offenders. But there were surprises. In a somewhat bleak picture there were instances of good practice.