Japan is such an interesting place.
Due to its long life expectancy (27%+ of its population is over 65), many seniors have resorted to a very unusual tactic to get state-sponsored care: going to prison.
Neither the government nor the private sector has established an effective rehabilitation program for seniors, and the costs to keep them in prison are rising fast. Expenses associated with elder care helped push annual medical costs at correctional facilities past 6 billion yen (more than $50 million) in 2015, an 80 percent increase from a decade before.
At some facilities, being a correctional officer has come to resemble being a nursing-home attendant. Satomi Kezuka, a veteran officer at Tochigi Women’s Prison, about 60 miles north of Tokyo, says her duties now include dealing with incontinence.
Specialized workers have been hired to help older inmates with bathing and toileting during the day, but at night these tasks are handled by guards.
While the numbers paint an interesting picture, personal accounts of some of the incarcerated elderly women brings the problem (solution?) into perspective.
“I was imprisoned for the first time when I was 70. When I shoplifted, I had money in my wallet. Then I thought about my life. I didn’t want to go home, and I had nowhere else to go. My life is much easier in prison. I can be myself and breathe, however temporarily.”
– Mrs T, 80 years old.
I felt this one a lot.
“Prison is an oasis for me—a place for relaxation and comfort. I don’t have freedom here, but I have nothing to worry about, either. There are many people to talk to. They provide us with nutritious meals three times a day. My daughter visits once a month. She says ‘I don’t feel sorry for you. You’re pathetic.’ I think she’s right.”
– Mrs O, 76 years old
Definitely one of the more interesting articles I’ve read recently.