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>> Some are blind.

Others are ridden with cancer.

Many have serious mental

illness.

All of them are old.

And a few will never get out

alive.

>> The United States gives out

longer sentences than any other

place on the face of the earth.

Europe looks at us like we don't

know what we're doing - looks at

us like we're crazy.

>> Open Nine.

>> In this special

investigation, Fault Lines gains

unprecedented and exclusive

access to prisons across the

United States and discovers a

booming population of elderly

inmates.

>> Open five.

We ask: what's the

true cost of America's

"lock'em-up-and-throw-away-the-

key" approach to justice?

>> I heard him fall.

>> Inmates call this the death

house.

The geriatric unit at the Joseph

Harp Correctional Center in

Lexington, Oklahoma, holds more

than 250 elderly and disabled

offenders.

It was created 3 years

ago in response to a

massive explosion in Oklahoma's

elderly prison population.

>> Our fastest growing segment

is the inmates that are the age

of 50 and over.

We have about 3,700 now - that's

grown almost 200 percent in the

last decade - and projections

are we're gonna continue to grow

about 45 percent a year -

because of enhancements to

punishments, 'tough on crime',

85% laws that require you to

serve 85% before you're even

eligible for parole, and then

the advent of life without

parole.

>> My name is Plutarcho Hill and

my number is 48713.

I received that January the

16th, 1948.

>> Plutarcho has the oldest

inmate number in the state, he

is 86 years old - 66 of those

years have been spent behind

bars.

He's escaped from prison 10

times.

>> So you're as

good getting out of prison as

you are getting in?

>> Well, when my health was

good.

>>What are you serving for now?

This sentence?

>> It was a murder charge.

>> How long ago?

>> 1947.

>> What's your sentence?

>> Life.

>> And this is what life means

for Plutarcho now.

A small section of a dormitory,

with a few black and white

photographs of his family.

He's outlived all of them.

>> Elderly people in prison.

Should they be given extra

consideration for release?

>> Well, yeah.

Yeah, I do.

>> Can you explain why?

>> Because they're harmless.

>> Plutarcho's not alone.

In fact he's part of a growing

American trend.

In the last decade the number of

prisoners aged 55 and over has

grown by an astonishing 75

percent, partly because longer

sentences began to be handed out

in the 1970's and 80's as the

U.S. took a "tough on crime"

approach.

And the older a

prisoner is, the bigger

financial drain they pose.

An elderly inmate costs around

70 thousand dollars a year to

lock up - 2 to 3 times more than

younger offenders.

Older prisoners suffer higher

rates of health problems -

functional disabilities,

impaired movement, major

diseases, and mental illness.

Mabel Basset Correctional

Center is Oklahoma's largest

women's prison.

This state incarcerates

more women per capita than any

other in the US - twice the

national average.

They too are growing old behind

bars.

Estella and Mary may look like

two grandmothers passing their

time reading and writing poetry.

And they are.

But they're also convicted

killers.

>> I didn't have a chance in

what I did.

It was either kill or be killed.

And I chose to live, and it was

a survival thing.

>> Estella turns 60 in November.

She's been behind bars for 13

years and hopes to be released

in 2014.

>> Can you tell us what kind of

impact your incarceration has

had on your family?

>> Well it's been especially

hard on my grandchildren,

because they always wonder why I

can't go home with them when

they come to visit me.

And they get upset.

Like why did you do it, they ask

me why did you do this, you

know, and explaining to little

kids like that that you took

somebody's life is really hard.

>> The rising number of elderly

prisoners - and the price tag

for that trend - comes as state

budgets are being squeezed

across the country.

Oklahoma has been hit

particularly hard.

>> The second round of budget

reductions took a lot of our

treatment.

We have no substance abuse

treatment, contractually or

otherwise at the medium security

level down.

I know you've been to some of

our medium security facilities.

So we have to go back to our

10,000 plus volunteers, people

that are retired professionals,

people that work with

faith-based groups or prison

ministries, and ask them to do

more, to fill in the gaps.

>> On a recent Sunday evening,

the West Moore Community Church

band is doing just that, playing

a concert for the inmates at

Joseph Harp Correctional

Facility.

Numerous prisons we visited in

Oklahoma were on lockdown

because they did not have enough

officers on duty to provide

security.

Staffing in Oklahoma prison

systems is at 70% Officials told

us they were operating in

warehouse mode, storing people

with little to no rehabilitation

efforts.

Most of the prisoners,

young and old, that we talked to

spoke about how hard it was to

be granted parole.

Unlike every other state in the

US, all parolees in Oklahoma

must be signed off directly by

the governor.

It's part of the political

landscape where

politicians don't want to be

seen as soft on crime.

>> You'll never find somebody

running for elected office in

the House or the Senate that's

going to have a platform of

successful reintegration, or is

going to be less tough on crime

than whoever they're running

against.

That's just the nature of

politics I believe.

>> What do you think of prison.

>> It ain't no good.

No, it ain't no good for people

today.

>> At 100 years old,

with one leg missing and

suffering from dementia, Sherman

Parker is one of the oldest

prisoners in the United States.

He's locked up at Dick Conner

Correctional Facility- an hour

north of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Here the prison has found a low

cost solution for inmate health

care--they train other prisoners

as orderlies to work in the

infirmary.

Seth Anderson often works long

hours taking care of the inmates

here and for his efforts is paid

$5 a month.

He was convicted of kidnapping,

drug possession and possession

of a sawed-off shotgun.

>> Dick Conners' infirmary is

where everybody comes to die.

We have guys with cancer,

leukemia, bone cancer.

One guy's got leukemia, bone

cancer and lung cancer, all in

the same.

That's what he's here for.

He's here to die.

>> One inmate Seth takes care of

is blind -- a wool cap pulled

down over his face to prevent

light from irritating his eyes.

He is one of several inmates

here Seth says has been granted

medical parole, but remain

behind bars simply because they

don't have anyone to pick them

up.

>> As for the fear that some of

these men might reoffend - the

statistics show that it happens,

but it's rare - just 3 out of

every 100 prisoners over 55

return to prison, compared to

almost half of all 18-29 year

olds.

>> They can't harm nobody else.

They can't harm themselves, you

know what I mean.

There's no sense in them being

here.

>> Seth thinks Sherman Parker

should be released too.

Sherman is serving two life

sentences for shooting and

killing two women, when he was

82.

He has no

chance of leaving prison alive.

>> But what about, let's say

the victim's family like one of

the ladies that Mr. Parker shot?

Their kids don't want him out,

they think he should serve the

rest of his life.

I mean, do you understand that

point of view, too, or do you

think he should be let out?

>> Sure, I do.

But he's a hundred and almost

101 years old.

You know what I mean?

I think he has served his life.

You know, I mean, he's a

century old.

You know, he's served his life.

Let him go.

Yeah, let him go.

>> Do you think you need to be

in here?

>> No, I don't need to be here.

I need to be at home on the

farm.

That's where I was born and

raised.

That's all I know.

>> These people decided.

today they will be arrested...

>> I know that I'm being

surveilled...

>> People are not

getting the care that they need

>> This is a crime against

humanity...

>> Hands up!

>> Don't shoot!

>> Hands up!

>> Don't shoot!

>> What do we want?

>> Justice!

>> When do we want it?

>> Now!

>> ...communicate,,,

>> They're running towards the

base...

>> ...explosions going off...

we're not quite sure what...

>> Get em' how you need?

>> To watch more episodes of

the Emmy Award winning series

Fault Lines,

check your local listings

or visit aljazeera.com

>> Fishkill correctional

facility - 70 miles north of New

York City.

To address the needs of its

growing elderly prison

population, New York built the

nation's first Unit for the

Cognitively Impaired.

All these inmates have dementia.

Their average age is 63 and many

have Alzheimers.

We've joined the founder and

director of the unit, Dr. Edward

Sottile, as he does his rounds.

Fault Lines is the first

television crew to be allowed

here.

[KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK]

>> Mr. Turner...How are you?

How are you feeling today?

Today Dr. Sottile checks on 59

year old Chris Turner.

Serving a sentence for

kidnapping and sodomy, he's also

being punished for punching a

nurse in the stomach.

How are you doing with your arm

motions?

>> They seem to be a lot better

now that you mention it...

>> He came to us a couple of

years ago with Huntington's

Chorea.

That is a genetic disease that

is gradually progressive and the

patient has these movements that

are purposeless-he can't control

his movement.

And eventually, what happens is

it affects his ability to

swallow.

And eventually, they

deteriorate, they lose weight

and they die.

>> This unit houses 30 beds -

and it's almost always full.

>> Mr. Johnson...

>> Yes sir...

>> How are you?

>> Fine,thank you sir.

>> How are you doing today?

In the outside world, Inmate

Robert Johnson was a heavy

gambler...

>> Donald Trump flew me all over

the world - Hong Kong and all

over...

>> You have to be kidding

>> Oh yeah...I'm not kidding

you...I his private jet.

- ...until his wife

cancelled his credit line at the

casinos.

>> Cause I promised her before I

left the house, I would not use

my credit line.

I keep my word...

But she didn't tell me

I couldn't say I had a credit

line.

>> OK

>> Now he claims he doesn't

remember shooting at her with a

rifle.

Which raises the question, if

prisoners with dementia can't

remember the crimes they

committed, how can they be

rehabilitated?

>> I had the same question.

I can't control that.

But not being able to control

that, the best that we can do,

as physicians and healthcare

providers is to manage them in a

way that is humane, that's

compassionate, and the only way

we can do that is by

understanding their disease.

>> As the prison population in

America continues to age, other

states will undoubtedly need

units like this one to look

after inmates with deteriorating

mental capacity, but at 100

thousand dollars a year per

inmate, where is the money going

to come from?

At present, no one seems to have

the answer.

Three years ago Larry White was

released from prison.

He'd served a 32 year sentence

for armed robbery and felony

homicide.

He's 72 now.

After so long inside, he has

struggled to adapt to life on

the outside.

>> I would get on the subway and

I was so self-conscious that I

would break out into a cold

sweat.

Because it seemed to me that

everybody knew that this guy had

just come out of prison, that

everyone was staring at me.

And I would say

"What the (bleep)

are you looking at?

What the (bleep) is the matter?"

(laughs)...You can't do that...

>> While locked-up Larry built

social networks and programs for

prisoners - trying to change the

system from within.

>> So I organized other

prisoners first of all to change

the conditions

and to oppose how the

guards and administration was

treating us.

That became a movement and it

spread from one prison to

another.

>> Now, Larry is trying to

continue that same work from the

other side of the fence -

advocating for compassionate

release for older inmates.

>> I'm a firm believe that

anybody can change.

Now it may take some people

longer than others to change.

Some people will die before they

do change.

It's just that they didn't live

long enough to change.

But my whole life now is geared

to going back to help those I

left behind.

That's my life.

I would feel that loss if I

couldn't go back at all...

>> It's to the point that even

though you're out, it's still in

you.

>> Yeah, I miss it.

I do.

I don't tell people that, but I

do.

>> Protesters are

gatherering...

>> There's an air of tension

right now...

>> ...crowd chanting for

democracy...

>> This is another signifigant

development

>> We have an exclusive

story tonight,

and we go live to...

>> Unlike Larry, many prisoners

won't make it out alive.

Thousands of inmates will die

behind bars in the United States

this year.

Lewis Young is afraid that he

may be one of them.

Diagnosed with kidney cancer,

Lewis awaits his sentence in the

hospital wing of Philadelphia's

Detention Center.

>> To have cancer, to be in

jail, and not to be around your

family.

You know, it's real scary.

>> In lieu of family, Lewis has

Phyllis Taylor.

She's a correctional chaplain

and has developed the hospice

program here to help comfort

dying prisoners.

>> My hope is that if it's not

possible to release the elders

and to release the dying into

society, that the prisons and

jails become home-like.

[PRAYING]

>> She popped out of the clear

blue.

She's like an angel to me right.

And I started getting my proper

medication, you know, they

started giving me morphine...

>> Phyllis works with dozens of

other dying patients across the

state of Pennsylvania.

She believes everyone should be

allowed to die with dignity.

>> A lot of people would say,

look they broke the law.

They deserve to be there and if

they die there, then that's the

choices they made.

>> And I would say back 'each

person has value.

And there was something

redemptive in each person.

That nobody's a throw-away

person.

This is my community.

I'm always going to be behind

bars.

I'm always going to be there.

How can I help at least one

other person so my life has

meaning?

>> Well they call us OG's

OG's...Original Gangsters...

[LAUGHS]

>> At 59 Kevin Bartley is a

member of the Lifer's Group at

Otisville Correctional Facility

in New York.

He is serving 15 years to life

for his role in a murder during

a convenience store robbery.

>> We had a Republican governor,

that ran on crime and punishment

and when he came in he said he

didn't want no one with a

violent crime to be released and

that was the message he sent

throughout the parole department

and they took that very

seriously.

>> Kevin has earned privileges

at the prison, he works freely

in the storehouse bringing in

goods from the outside world.

He's been told that he is a

perfect candidate for release

but he's been denied parole

every time he has gone before

the board, instead he keeps

getting "deuced".

>> Two years or deuce

is the max they can hold you.

I've been deuced 8 times.

So I'm part of the 16 year over

the minimum club.

>> When's your next one?

>> My next one is in November

2011.

>> Is that going to be your

year?

>> That's going to be my

year.

That's going to be my year.

31 years in the penitentiary and

I will leave.

>> Kevin has used his time

inside to better himself.

He's received a master's degree

in theology, learned sign

language while working with deaf

inmates.

>> Keeping people incarcerated

who are community ready.

Ready to go out here and be an

asset to the community.

To me it's crazy.

Why don't you release us now

while we're still healthy and

able to contribute?

Don't wait until we lose a leg

or an arm or our minds...

>> So while a crisis that few

seem willing to face expands to

alarming proportions, Kevin and

thousands of other older inmates

like him will continue to grow

old behind bars.

>> You have more people locked

up per capita than anywhere else

in the civilized world, how can

you do that?

And you're always crying about

how much money it costs.

It's not solving your problems.

>> We have to treat these people

as human beings.

They are human beings.

And they deserve compassion,

dignity and respect.

And if you treat these people

with that, then I think you're

doing the right thing.

And I think that's the reason

why we're here.

>> You know you're in a place

where loneliness will kill you.

Loneliness...Even though I'm in

an institution with 500 other

guys, I'm still lonely.

You're still lonely.

Lonely inside.

The Description of Dying Inside: Elderly in Prison Fault Lines