The number of older adults in prison -- many of whom require specialized care for age-related illnesses -- is growing and placing unsustainable pressure on the justice system.
It is estimated that by 2030, people over the age 50 will comprise one-third of the U.S. prison population, according to research conducted by the Osborne Association, a non-profit that creates opportunities for people affected by the criminal justice system to further develop their strengths and lead lives of responsibility and contribution.
The Pike County Reentry Coalition has been working in partnership with staff at the Pike County Correctional Facility (PCCF) and Area Agency on Aging (AAA) to proactively address this trend. “The aging inmate population presents many challenges for correctional facilities, and we are working locally to create solutions by bringing together county services and expertise,” says Hampton Morgan, a long-time PCCF volunteer and Co-Chair of Pike’s Reentry Coalition, a group that helps returning citizens as they transition to their communities after incarceration.
Area Agency on Aging staff conduct functional needs assessments of older inmates at PCCF to help determine if support services are needed as an inmate is processed through the judicial system. The Veterans Administration and Carbon-Monroe-Pike Mental Health and Development Services provide reentry services at the appropriate time.
Recently, PCCF staff completed a Dementia Friends Informational Session conducted by Pike’s AAA Executive Director Robin Skibber, who is a Dementia Friend Champion, a designation provided by Dementia Friends USA. New PCCF staff members will complete informational sessions on an ongoing basis.
Dementia is not a normal part of aging. It is caused by damage to brain cells that affects a person’s ability to communicate, which can affect thinking, behavior and feelings. A Dementia Friend is someone who learns about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action.
“Offenders suffering with Dementia need and receive individualized plans of care,” says PCCF Warden Craig Lowe. “Our medical and correctional staff identify the specific needs of each individual and provide the appropriate care. Educating our staff through the Dementia Friends program is beneficial to offenders and staff members who provide care.”
“As a Dementia Friend Champion Volunteer, it is encouraging to see our community working towards more respect and inclusivity for the growing number of people living with dementia, and those who care for them,” says Skibber.
Those interested in Dementia Friends Informational Sessions can email Skibber at or call 570-775-5550.