Search About Subscribe Donate
Aging inmates eat lunch in the dining hall at Devens federal prison in Massachusetts in 2015.
Quiz

Are Older People Getting Harsher Sentences? Take Our Quiz to Find Out.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics takes a close look at our aging state prison population.

According to a new report out today from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the median age of prisoners is on the rise. For years, researchers and state corrections officials have observed the trend, but today’s report provides the latest evidence of our graying prison populations — and the surprising reasons why.

From 1993 to 2013, the bureau found that the median age of a state prisoner increased from 30 to 36 years old. While some of that growth can be attributed to young offenders serving lengthy sentences, the report also found that older inmates were subject to higher arrest rates and longer sentences.

So how well do you understand the shifting demographics of our aging prison population? Peruse the best reporting The Marshall Project has found on the elderly in prison, then take this quiz to learn more.

Before you go...

Can you help us make a difference?

The Marshall Project produces journalism that makes an impact. Our investigation into violence using police dogs prompted departments from Indiana to Louisiana to change their policies. Thousands of cameras were installed in the infamous Attica prison after we revealed the extent of violent abuse by guards. Municipalities stopped charging parents for their kids’ incarceration because of our reporting. Supreme Court justices have cited us, along with incarcerated people acting as their own lawyers.

The deeply reported and painstakingly edited investigations we produce take persistence, significant resources and, above all, time. That’s why we need your support. Donations from readers like you allow us to commit the time and attention needed to tell stories that are driving real change. Your support goes a long way toward sustaining this important work..

We’ve set a goal of $15,000 before September 25 — if you’re able, please donate today. We’re extremely grateful to each and every donor who helps power our journalism. We could not do it without you.

Donate