Quelling the Silver Tsunami: Compassionate Release of Elderly Offenders

50 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2019

Date Written: 2018


Sentencing reform appears resurrected. Following a brief hiatus and an expectedly unwelcoming recent federal response, sentencing reform is again reemerging as a major initiative. Congress and the several states are poised to immediately accomplish major reform of the United States criminal sentencing structure. Proposals that would, among other initiatives, drastically reduce criminal sentences, restore rehabilitative programs to inmates, generate sentencing parity, normalize probation for low-level offenses, and shrink the overall prison footprint are ambling through various legislative processes throughout the country. Though groundbreaking and certainly welcome, these reforms largely ignore the special needs of the imprisoned elderly. One of the most foreseeable, yet ironically ignored, consequences of 1980's and 1990's harsh sentencing laws, is the dramatic upsurge in prison population through the predictable process of human aging. Coined the prison “silver tsunami” phenomenon, surging numbers of elderly inmates raises significant moral, health, and fiscal implications deserving keen scrutiny. It is imperative, then, that any overhaul of criminal sentencing focuses on how to meaningfully address the graying of America's prisons.

Keywords: Sentencing reform, Prisoners, Prisons, Imprisonment, Sentences (Criminal procedure), Sentences (Criminal procedure)--Government policy, Sentences (Criminal procedure)--Social aspects, Older people—Care, Older people, Demographic change and public policy, Aging

Suggested Citation

Jefferson-Bullock, Jalila, Quelling the Silver Tsunami: Compassionate Release of Elderly Offenders (2018). 79 Ohio State Law Journal 937-990 (2018)., Duquesne University School of Law Research Paper No. 2019-01, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3362344

Jalila Jefferson-Bullock (Contact Author)

Duquesne University - School of Law ( email )

600 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15282
United States
412.396.6287 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.duq.edu/faculty/jalila-jefferson-bullock

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