Jamelle Bouie watches their numbers swell. His proposal:
I understand the logic of incarcerating the elderly -- a murder committed 40 years ago is still a murder -- but it's hard to see the enterprise as anything other than absurd. Crime is a game for the young; the vast majority of crimes are committed by men in their late teens and 20s. Criminal behavior drops sharply drops after age 30 and enters a permanent tailspin after late middle age. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report for 2009, fewer than 1 percent of all crimes are attributable to those 60 and older. Assuming you could weed out the most dangerous inmates from those who are basically harmless, it makes the most sense to just release prisoners once they reach 65; at that point, they are well past the peak years for criminal behavior. If that's too radical, you could mandate the possibility of parole for any inmate serving a life sentence, or one that would leave them imprisoned past the age of 60.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.