Aging prisoners make up fastest growing segment of nation's prison population

The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world - as of 2010 the national prison population was approximately 2.26 million people. According to a 2012 Human Rights Watch report, between 1995 and 2010, the total number of state and federal prisoners increased by 42%, while the number of prisoners 55-and-older skyrocketed by 282% to 124,400 prisoners. The reasons for the dramatic rise in the elderly incarcerated date back to the 1970s through the 1990s, when "tough on crime" policies were enacted and the "war on drugs" was declared. Since then, mandatory-minimum sentencing, three-strike laws and life-without-parole have become popular techniques to keep those in prison behind bars, causing a rapid growth in the prison populate - including the aging and elderly. (Getty)

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