Coming Home: Health Status and Homelessness Risk of Older Pre-release Prisoners
Skip to main content
eScholarship
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Coming Home: Health Status and Homelessness Risk of Older Pre-release Prisoners

  • Author(s): Williams, Brie A.
  • McGuire, James
  • Lindsay, Rebecca G.
  • Baillargeon, Jacques
  • Cenzer, Irena Stijacic
  • Lee, Sei J.
  • Kushel, Margot
  • et al.
Abstract

Older adults comprise an increasing proportion of the prison and homeless populations. While older age is associated with adverse post-release health events and incarceration is a risk factor for homelessness, the health status and homelessness risk of older pre-release prisoners are unknown. Moreover, most post-release services are geared towards veterans; it is unknown whether the needs of non-veterans differ from those of veterans. To assess health status and risk of homelessness of older pre-release prisoners, and to compare veterans with non-veterans. Cross-sectional study of 360 prisoners (≥55 years of age) within 2 years of release from prison using data from the 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities. Veteran status, health status (based on self-report), and risk of homelessness (homelessness before arrest). Mean age was 61 years; 93.8% were men and 56.5% were white. Nearly 40% were veterans, of whom 77.2% reported likely VA service eligibility. Veterans were more likely to be white and to have obtained a high school diploma or GED. Overall, 79.1% reported a medical condition and 13.6% reported a serious mental illness. There was little difference in health status between veterans and non-veterans. Although 1 in 12 prisoners reported a risk factor for homelessness, the risk factors did not differ according to veteran status. Older pre-release prisoners had a high burden of medical and mental illness and were at risk for post-release homelessness regardless of veteran status. Reentry programs linking pre-release older prisoners to medical and psychiatric services and to homelessness prevention programs are needed for both veterans and non-veterans.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC Academic Senate's Open Access Policy. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
Current View