What Older Prisoners Teach Us About Care and Justice in An Aging World
Keywords:Older Prisoners, Incarceration, Confinement, Justice, Ethnography
Over the last two decades, there has been a rapid rise in the proportion of older adults in prisons across the world. While the cause for this trend depends on local demographic, legal and social circumstances, ethnographic attention to this issue remains sparse. This commentary examines the contributions of two recent books on older adults in prisons in order to highlight key questions and findings that might provide a foundation for future research for the anthropology of aging and the life course. Despite focusing on different national contexts, both works reveal the disproportionate harm to older adults as a result of incarceration, as well as the ways individuals cope, even in very restrictive institutional environments. I conclude by stressing the need for more ethnographic attention to the growing overlap between aging and the carceral (in and out of prisons), and the importance of this research for questioning our broader assumptions about aging, care, crime and justice.
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