Smart decarceration

Meredith L. Stensland, Sara Sanders

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The United States leads the world in the proportion of the population incarcerated, and older offenders are a rapidly growing segment of this population. The “graying” of prisons and corresponding growth in correctional healthcare expenditures have spurred a larger discussion about how prisons can balance the need for humane treatment with cost containment. This chapter critically examines the issue of smart decarceration with a specific focus on aging. Older offenders represent a vulnerable population in the correctional context, similar to the other populations smart decarceration seeks to target, including individuals who are racial minorities, impoverished, and living with behavioral health disorders. Following a summary of the state of relevant literature, a case study is provided that illustrates the essence of aging in a correctional setting. Also included is a critical review of assessment issues, which frames compassionate release as a promising intervention for promoting the objective of smart decarceration. Lastly, implications for policy, practice, and research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGerontological Social Work and the Grand Challenges
Subtitle of host publicationFocusing on Policy and Practice
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9783030263348
ISBN (Print)9783030263331
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Compassionate release
  • Correctional system
  • Criminal justice
  • Decarceration
  • Prison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Medicine


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