10-18-2019  12:15 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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Merkley Introduces Legislation that Protects Access to Health Care for Those Who Cannot Afford Bail

Under current law, individuals in custody who have not been convicted of a crime are denied Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits

New County Hire Aims to Build Trust, Transparency Between Community and Public Safety Officials

Leneice Rice will serve as a liaison focused on documenting and reporting feedback from a community whose faith in law enforcement has been tested

Hank Willis Thomas Exhibit Opens at Portland Art Museum

One of the most important conceptual artists of our time, his works examine the representation of race and the politics of visual culture

Grocery Workers Union Ratifies Contract with Stores

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union has agreed a three-year contract for stores in Oregon and Southwest Washington


GFO Offers African Americans Help in Solving Family Mysteries

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon is holding an African American Special Interest Group Saturday, Oct. 19 ...

Third Annual NAMC-WA Gala Features Leader on Minority Business Development

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Building Bridges Event Aims to Strengthen Trust Between Communities

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The Black Man Project Kicks Off National Tour in Seattle

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Protesters Rally in Ashland to Demand 'Impeach Trump Now'

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Person with measles passed through Portland airport

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Court issues temporary stay on flavored vaping ban in Oregon

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No. 22 Missouri ready to test road skills at Vanderbilt

No. 22 Missouri (5-1, 2-0 SEC) at Vanderbilt (1-5, 0-3), Saturday at 4 p.m. EDT (SEC Network).Line: Missouri by 20 1/2.Series record: Missouri 7-3-1.WHAT'S AT STAKE?Missouri can show they play as well on the road as at home coming off a five-game home stand. A win keeps them atop the SEC East....

Bryant bounces back to lead Missouri over Mississippi

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Last week, when he heard a pop in his left knee after being hit low, Missouri quarterback Kelly Bryant briefly saw his college football career pass before his eyes. The injury wasn't as bad as it looked, and Bryant played like his old self in a 38-27 victory over...


Atatiana Jefferson, Killed by Police Officer in Her Own Home

Atatiana Jefferson, a biology graduate who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and was contemplating becoming a doctor, lived a life of purpose that mattered ...

“Hell No!” That Is My Message to Those Who Would Divide Us 

Upon release from the South African jail, Nelson Mandela told UAW Local 600 members “It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world" ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Issues Response to the Latest Statement from Clackamas Town Center

State legislator questions official response after daughter questioned for ‘loitering’ in parking lot ...

Why Would HUD Gut Its Own Disparate Impact Rule?

"You can’t expand housing rights by limiting civil protections. The ’D’ in HUD doesn’t stand for ‘Discrimination’" ...


Kessel scores twice, leads Coyotes past Predators 5-2

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The way Phil Kessel had been playing for the Arizona Coyotes at the start of the season, scoring a goal was just a matter of time.The veteran forward put it all together Thursday night, scoring his first two goals for Arizona, and Christian Dvorak scored his third goal...

Cummings recalled as powerful orator who took on White House

BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cumming, who died Thursday at age 68, was remembered as a moral voice of conscience in a divisive era — a leader who fought for civil rights and took on the White House as a prominent figure in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald...

Kobach fires Kansas Senate campaign aide over hateful posts

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Republican Kris Kobach's campaign for the Senate in Kansas says it has fired an aide after learning he regularly posted hateful comments about Jews and racial minorities on a white nationalist website.The latest campaign finance report filed by Kobach's campaign shows it...


Country artists bring tears, prayers to CMT awards show

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country music artists cried together and prayed together at an emotional CMT Artists of the Year awards show that reflected the tight-knit community of artists who supported each other through success and loss.Country singer Kane Brown, who was one of several artists...

'Spirited Away,' other Studio Ghibli films head to HBO Max

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The vast catalog of storied Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli is heading to the new HBO Max streaming service.Films such as "Princess Mononoke," ''My Neighbor Totoro" and Oscar-winner "Spirited Away" will be among the titles available to stream when HBO Max launches...

For Springsteen, 'Western Stars' made sense after book, play

NEW YORK (AP) — "Western Stars" was just the change of pace that Bruce Springsteen needed after baring his soul over the past few years.First, he shared his darkest secrets in his memoir, "Born to Run." Then he spent more than a year telling his story five nights a week in Springsteen on...


Astros power past Yanks for 3-1 ALCS lead, Verlander up next

NEW YORK (AP) — They have the pitching, and they don't need the pitches. Certainly, the Houston Astros have...

China's economic slowdown deepens, weighing on global growth

BEIJING (AP) — China's economic growth sank to a 26-year low in the latest quarter amid pressure from a...

Trudeau could lose power in Canada's election Monday

TORONTO (AP) — Ian Bremmer remembers the first time he met Justin Trudeau, at the annual gathering of...

Silver: China asked for Rockets GM Daryl Morey to be fired

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Chinese officials wanted Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to be fired...

New protests planned as marches converge in Catalonia

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The Catalan regional capital is bracing for a fifth day of protests over the...

Gun battles sweep Culiacan after troops locate Chapo's son

CULIACAN, Mexico (AP) — An intense gunfight with heavy weapons and burning vehicles blocking roads...

David Crary AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- In corrections systems nationwide, officials are grappling with decisions about geriatric units, hospices and medical parole as elderly inmates - with their high rates of illness and infirmity - make up an ever increasing share of the prison population.

At a time of tight state budgets, it's a trend posing difficult dilemmas for policymakers. They must address soaring medical costs for these older inmates and ponder whether some can be safely released before their sentences expire.

The latest available figures from 2010 show that 8 percent of the prison population - 124,400 inmates - was 55 or older, compared to 3 percent in 1995, according to a report being released Friday by Human Rights Watch. This oldest segment grew at six times the rate of the overall prison population between 1995 and 2010, the report says.

"Prisons were never designed to be geriatric facilities," said Jamie Fellner, a Human Rights Watch special adviser who wrote the report. "Yet U.S. corrections officials now operate old age homes behind bars."

The main reasons for the trend, Fellner said, are the long sentences, including life without parole, that have become more common in recent decades, boosting the percentage of inmates unlikely to leave prison before reaching old age, if they leave at all. About one in 10 state inmates is serving a life sentence; an additional 11 percent have sentences longer than 20 years.

The report also notes an increase in the number of offenders entering prison for crimes committed when they were over 50. In Ohio, for example, the number of new prisoners in that age group jumped from 743 in 2000 to 1,815 in 2010, according to the report.

Fellner cited the case of Leonard Hudson, who entered a New York prison at age 68 in 2002 on a murder conviction and will be eligible for parole when he's 88. He's housed in a special unit for men with dementia and other cognitive impairments, Fellner said.

A.T. Wall, director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections and president of the Association of State Correctional Administrators, said he and his colleagues regularly exchange ideas on how to cope with the surging numbers of older prisoners.

"We are accustomed to managing large numbers of inmates, and it's a challenge to identify particular practices that need to be put into place for a subset," he said. "There are no easy solutions."

Wall said prison officials confront such questions as whether to retrofit some cells with grab bars and handicap toilets, how to accommodate inmates' wheelchairs, and how to deal with inmates who no longer understand instructions.

"Dementia can set in, and an inmate who was formerly easy to manage becomes very difficult to manage," he said.

States are trying to meet the needs. Some examples:

-Washington state opened an assisted living facility at its Coyote Ridge prison complex in 2010, with a capacity of 74 inmates. It's reserved for inmates with a disability who are deemed to pose little security risk.

-The Louisiana State Penitentiary has had a hospice program for more than a decade, staffed by fellow prisoners who provide dying inmates with care ranging from changing diapers to saying prayers.

-In Massachusetts, a new corrections master plan proposes one or more new facilities to house aging inmates who need significant help with daily living. Some critics object, saying inmates shouldn't get specialized care that might not be available or affordable for members of the public.

-Montana's corrections department is seeking bids for a 120-bed prison that would include assisted-living facilities for some elderly inmates and others who need special care.

In Texas, legislators have been considering several options for addressing the needs of infirm, elderly inmates. State Rep. Jerry Madden, chairman of the House Corrections Committee, said no decisions have been made as the experts try to balance cost factors and public safety.

"You can't just generalize about these prisoners," he said. "Some are still extremely dangerous, some may not be.... Some you wouldn't want in the same assisted living facility with your parents or grandparents."

Fellner, who visited nine states and 20 prisons during her research, said corrections officials often were constrained by tight budgets, lack of support from elected officials, and prison architecture not designed to accommodate the elderly.

She noted that prison policies traditionally were geared to treat all inmates on an equal basis. So it may not be easy for prison officials to consider special accommodations for aging inmates, whether it be extra blankets, shortcuts to reduce walking distance, or sparing them from assignments to upper bunks.

The report said the number of aging prisoners will continue to grow unless there are changes to tough-on-crime policies such as long mandatory sentences and reduced opportunities for parole.

"How are justice and public safety served by the continued incarceration of men and women whose bodies and minds have been whittled away by age?" Fellner asked.

One of the problems facing prisons is that many of their health care staff lack expertise in caring for the elderly, according to Linda Redford, director of the geriatric education center at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

"It's a big struggle for them to keep up," said Redford, who has helped train prison staff and inmates in geriatric care.

"They're used to having to deal with issues of younger prisoners, such as HIV and substance abuse," she said.

Under a Supreme Court ruling, inmates are guaranteed decent medical care, but they lack their own insurance and states must pay the full cost. In Georgia, according to Fellner's report, inmates 65 and older had an average yearly medical cost of $8,565, compared with $961 for those under 65.

Redford said the challenges are compounded because inmates' health tends to decline more rapidly than that of other Americans of the same age due to long-term problems with drug use and poor health care.

"In the general population, 65 doesn't seem that old," Redford said. "In prison, there are 55-year-olds looking like they're 75."

Many states have adopted early release programs targeted at older inmates who are judged to pose little threat to public safety. However, a 2010 study by the Vera Institute of Justice in New York City found the laws were used infrequently, in part because of political considerations and complex review procedures.

Redford said a common problem is finding nursing homes or other assisted-living facilities that will accept released inmates who have family to live with.

"Nursing homes don't want former felons," she said. "Some states are looking at starting long-term care facilities outside prison for that could take care of parolees."

For inmates who are terminally ill and have no close family on the outside, it's probably more humane to let them die in prison if there's a hospice program available, Redford said.

"The inmates who are volunteering are at those guys' sides when they die - they're really committed to making the last days as comfortable as possible," Redford said. "They're not going to get that on the outside."



Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/

Association of State Correctional Administrators: http://www.asca.net/


David Crary can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CraryAP

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