Septuagenarian deaths underscore push for new geriatric inmate policy

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Nevada Department of Corrections Facebook photo
prison
Nevada Department of Corrections Facebook photo

Two Nevada Department of Corrections inmates in their 70s have died in January. Their deaths come the same month the Crime and Justice Institute recommended the department implement a specialty parole option for long-term, geriatric inmates.

The Crime and Justice Institute, which spent nearly six months in 2018 compiling data regarding the state’s rising incarceration rates as part of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, presented its findings to the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice.

According to the group, the number of inmates older than 55 had increased 70 percent from 2009 to 2017. “As inmates age in custody, they develop medical issues at far higher rates than the general population,” the report notes.

The data also shows that inmates were admitted to the hospital 538 times in the last fiscal year, which is an 80 percent increase since 2014. “NDOC is authorized to release inmates to residential confinement who are physically incapacitated and pose no threat to public safety or are within 12 months of death,” the report says.

The policy recommendations — one of 25 the group proposed — include establishing a geriatric parole process for inmates who have reached a certain age and have served a minimum period of their sentence. They also recommend broadening the current medical residential confinement release option to include people who pose a minimal risk to public safety without the requirement that they are a year from death.

John Odoms, 72, died Jan. 28 after being in prison since 1982 and Gary Randles, 75, died Jan. 19 after being incarcerated since 1999. While the department hasn’t indicated the cause of death, they potentially could have qualified for such a program.

Michael Lyle
Michael Lyle (MJ to some) has been a journalist in Las Vegas for eight years.  He started his career at View Neighborhood News, the community edition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. During his seven years with the R-J, he won several first place awards from the Nevada Press Association and was named its 2011 Journalist of Merit. He left the paper in 2017 and spent a year as a freelance journalist accumulating bylines anywhere from The Washington Post to Desert Companion. While he covers a range of topics from homelessness to the criminal justice system, he gravitates toward stories about race relations and LGBTQ issues. Born and mostly raised in Las Vegas, Lyle graduated from UNLV with a degree in Journalism and Media Studies. He is currently working on his master's in Communications through an online program at Syracuse University. In his spare time, Lyle cooks through Ina Garten recipes in hopes of one day becoming the successor to the Barefoot Contessa throne. When he isn’t cooking (or eating), he also enjoys reading, running and re-watching episodes of “Parks and Recreation.” He is also in the process of learning kickboxing.

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