One of the consequences of over two decades of “tough on crime” legislation has been the steady increase in elderly residents in our nation’s jails and prisons. A 2015 Human Rights Watch report notes that the number of prisoners above the age of 55 has increased threefold in less than a decade, and that many of those men and women will remain incarcerated well into their 70s and 80s—if they leave prison at all.
For many of us, some of our earliest memories involve sitting on the couch and listening to mom read us stories about fanciful characters and faraway places. We remember those moments dearly, often holding onto those books and eventually reading them to our own children.
There are many challenges facing men and women as they leave prison and return to their communities. For some, there is the difficulty of simply finding a place to live. For others, there is the danger of falling into old habits and renewing old acquaintances.