In this post, we share important research by Meagan Strasser on the health experiences of older offenders while they are incarcerated and following their release from prison.
Master of Arts in Criminology
Faculty of Social Sciences
University of Ottawa, 2017
In Canada, the number of adults over the age of 50 incarcerated in federal penitentiaries has doubled over the past ten years, now comprising nearly 25 percent of the federal prison population (Martin, 2017). As this population continues to grow, so too will the demands placed on prison health services. To address this issue, researchers, policymakers, and practitioners suggest creating more accessible bedspace within existing institutions, cordoning off age-segregated prison units, building specialized geriatric prisons, and/or increasing the use of compassionate release. These solutions implicate institutional and community-based corrections, which produce ‘carceral’ and ‘transcarceral’ spaces respectively. These spaces are characterized by the application of social control within, across, and outside of custodial settings, which can have enormous implications for accessing health and healthcare. This research project explores how the health of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated older adults unfolds in the spaces to which they are confined. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with staff (n=4) and older residents (n=5) at halfway houses in Ottawa, Ontario. Drawing upon French Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre’s theorization of space, including three ‘moments’ of spatial production, and complementary criminological literature on carceral space, a thematic analysis of interview data revealed several important findings. Ultimately, the present study highlights tensions with respect to how the aging body is negotiated in carceral space, how the everyday practices that shape the lives of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated older adults contribute to the production of space, and what this reveals about the nature of these spaces.
The full thesis is available here.