Serwer analyzes prisoner demographics. The inmate population is getting older:
Obviously you don't want any Lockerbie Bomber type situations where dangerous inmates or those who have committed heinous crimes are getting a pass just because they're old, but by the time you're 55 you're pretty much past crime-committing age. According to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, offenders over 50 have a recidivism rate of only 9.5 percent. Compare that to offenders under 21, who have a recidivism rate of 35.5 percent. Until states start using their geriatric release programs more often and study the effects, it's hard to know whether geriatric release would save money overall or just in corrections budgets. But it's important to remember that being as punitive as we are in the U.S. costs real money.