Resistbot Petition: Unlock Hope: Support Parole for Missouri's Elderly Prisoners! (Mo. only)

An open letter to State Governors & Legislatures (Mo. only)

Unlock Hope: Support Parole for Missouri's Elderly Prisoners!

11 so far! Help us get to 25 signers!

I urge you to support SB1294 (Williams), HB2128 (Mackey), SB1218 (Washington), SB914 (McCreery), and SB1147 (Roberts), which would offer the possibility of parole to elderly individuals in Missouri prisons. Missouri is in the midst of reckoning with one of the many long term consequences of mass incarceration: a rapidly growing number of elders incarcerated in state prisons. The aging prison population primarily consists of individuals who received lengthy sentences for offenses committed decades ago. Increasing numbers of elderly incarcerated people leads to significant increases in healthcare costs for an already overburdened Department of Corrections budget. Data shows that older incarcerated people are approximately twice as costly to incarcerate compared to their younger counterparts. The continued incarceration of older adults and limited opportunities for parole goes against recidivism data that shows that the likelihood of an individual’s return to prison drops significantly as they age. The devastating impacts on elderly incarcerated individuals and their families, coupled with the economic cost to taxpayers, will only grow with time as the elderly prison population continues to age. It is time for Missouri to make a concerted effort to address this issue and open up pathways for early release for elderly incarcerated people. A lack of access to healthy lifestyle options, added to the stress of day-to-day life in prison, accelerates the aging process, making incarcerated individuals 10 to 15 physiological years older than their chronological age. Most incarcerated people are considered elderly when they reach age 50, and consistently have higher rates of mental illness, chronic medical conditions and infectious diseases than the general population. The number of people aged 50 and older who are in Missouri prisons is increasing at 11 times the rate of the overall prison population. Since 2005 the number has doubled, according to data from the Department of Corrections. As of 2021, approximately 21% of the incarcerated individuals under Missouri’s charge are over age 50. The vast majority of older adults in Missouri prisons will return to the community at some point, where they face significant challenges. Older re-entrants are more likely to be unhoused or housing insecure than their younger counterparts. They also face significant barriers to employment, including being unable to work due to age or health, and being barred from higher paying jobs due to their record and time incarcerated. This is compounded by intense social isolation and health concerns coupled with limited access to benefits and services. I ask you to support these pieces of legislation and all other efforts to address the issue of aging adults in state prisons. This issue will continue to grow in the coming years if not addressed with meaningful solutions.

▶ Created on February 9 by MO Residents

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