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Le vieillissement de la population carcérale sous responsabilité fédérale au Canada: Vers de «pénitenciers-hospices» ?


  • Anne-Laure Tesseron


The ageing of the prison population under federal responsibility is a more and more obvious phenomenon in Canadian penitentiaries, as is the increase in the number of prisoners of 50 years and over. The stakes connected with these two phenomena are many and constitute major challenges for the correctional authorities in providing health services, in finding the necessary material and financial resources, and in reorganizing the penitentiaries. This report has as its objective, on one hand to analyze the process of ageing of the prison population and, on the other, to forecast the number of prisoners of 50 years and over. This will allow us to answer our main research question: are we moving towards "penitentiary-homes"? The data were supplied by the Correctional Service of Canada for 2001-2002 to 2006- 2007 and result from a vast data base which is constantly enriched: The Criminal Justice Information Library. From these data, several indicators were calculated. The mean and median ages of various classes of prisoners allowed us to estimate the prison ageing while the rates of flow in and out of the system make possible projections of the prison population. We found an increase of the mean and median ages of the prisoners condemned to long sentences, combined with a slight increase in the age of admittance. However both age and age at the time of admission were relatively stable for those with short sentences. These observations confirm what had been observed in the literature: the ageing of the prison population can be explained largely by the existing penal system and the increasing severity of legislated penalties. In a second step, the projections of population highlighted a net increase of the number of prisoners of 50 years and over from 2007 till 2017 if current practices persist. So, penitentiaries have to face not only an ageing of their population but also an increase in the number of older prisoners. These two phenomena will change inexorably the organization of the federal establishments even if older prisoners remain a minority. The correctional authorities will have to adjust to this new prison reality.

Suggested Citation

  • Anne-Laure Tesseron, 2009. "Le vieillissement de la population carcérale sous responsabilité fédérale au Canada: Vers de «pénitenciers-hospices» ?," Social and Economic Dimensions of an Aging Population Research Papers 253, McMaster University.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcm:sedapp:253

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    Prison population; prison ageing; old prisoners; projections; Canada;

    JEL classification:

    • J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts

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