Helping people re-enter society after a prison stay can be tricky.
Angela Murolo, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice at St. Francis College, says one group may be left behind.
Angela S. Murolo, PhD is an Assistant Professor at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY. Her dissertation investigated older people’s experiences on parole and parole officer’s views on working with them. She has written several articles on correctional responses to geriatric inmates, the increasingly older prison population, geriatric parole, and correctional responses to COVID in Virginia (forthcoming, Crime and Justice Innovations, Adaptations and Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Southern Illinois University Press). A white paper in support of this research can be found here.
Dr. Lena Campagna is an Assistant Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal
Justice at Caldwell University in New Jersey. Dr. Campagna earned her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a concentration in communities and crime. Dr. Campagna’s research work (both solo and co-authored) has been published in Law and Society Review, Journal of Criminal Justice Education, American Indian Research and Culture Journal, and International Review of Victimology. Dr. Campagna also serves as an elected Executive Counselor for the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Victimology Division.
Re-entering Society: Elderly Support Post-Release and Successful Community-Based Aging
Increasingly, people leaving prison are over the age of 50 and on parole. Because of their advanced age, possible illness and separation from family members, they often rely on the support of parole officers and community-based organizations to improve their reentry experiences. More often than not, these organizations do not have age-based services for people over 50. This is problematic because older people leaving prison often have severed or broken family ties due to the nature of their offense or length of their incarceration. Because they are older, their family may be deceased or unable to support their reentry efforts due to their own advanced age or life circumstances. They also may have challenges finding housing and employment based on their age or conviction. Older people leaving prison who have been incarcerated for a lengthy period may struggle to adapt to the modern world of laptops, cell phones and online applications. Conversely, others want to improve their lives by giving back through peer support or have opportunities to widen their social circles.
Because parole officers are “first responders” to older people leaving prison, it is necessary that they have training in working with older adults, understand what services and programs are needed and available, and to build partnerships to support older people through community-based organizations including reentry and educational providers as well as senior support centers. Therefore both Dr. Campagna and I hope this research will start building bridges, create social networks and help build social capital for older people returning from prison.