Senior Citizens Behind Bars: Challenges for the Criminal Justice System.

Author:Haskins, Alice
Position:Book review

Senior Citizens Behind Bars: Challenges for the Criminal Justice System, edited by John J. Kerbs and Jennifer M. Jolley, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, Colo., 2014, 287 pp.

This book is a compilation of scholarly research articles that present a longitudinal look at older prisoners from commitment through release. Contributors include those with backgrounds in criminal justice, social work, mental health and gerontology. The subtitle of the work, "Challenges for the Criminal Justice System," sets the tone very well. Most issues that are minimized, denied or disregarded eventually come to the forefront in a manner that demands attention. Such is the case with senior citizens in the criminal justice system. Most criminal justice professionals are no longer surprised to hear the U.S. incarcerates more people than any other country. However, even the most shock-resistant professional might cringe upon discovering the U.S. perhaps incarcerates a greater number of older offenders than all other countries combined. Kerbs and Jolley remind us that older people will continue to be overrepresented in the system for the next 35 years. In this cohort are those arrested for the first time at 55 years or older; those who received a long sentence at an earlier age and are now 55 years or older; and career criminals who continue to recidivate.

In a holistic approach to the issues concerning older inmates, the authors contribute on expected topics, such as health issues, women's concerns and prisoner's rights; but they also include lesser-discussed topics. Here, the nuggets of genius are worth searching for. One example is family parole. Built on a model originally developed for youths, family-based parole brings together older offenders and members of their families, neighborhoods and communities to encourage pro-social relationships. While the book focuses heavily on...

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