The safe and also efficient procedure of the corrections system in brand-new York is critically important to protecting publicly safety, giving incarcerated people with methods to find success top top release, and ensuring the wise use of public resources. In 2017, the Office the the Comptroller approve a report detailing populace trends in the new York correctional system. The report uncovered that, in spite of reductions in the all at once size of the population, the variety of incarcerated individuals period 50 and above had stability increased between 2007 and also 2016.

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In the intervening years, number of criminal justice policy changes have to be adopted, and the decreasing trend in the system’s overall populace has accelerated. In fact, the number of incarcerated people in in march 2021 was simply one-half the level of march 2008. Nonetheless, the number of incarcerated individuals period 50 and over boosted marginally end the very same time period. Of more significance, people who to be at the very least 50 years old consisted of 24.3 percent that the’s total prison populace in march 2021, contrasted to 12.0 percent in in march 2008.

This report gives updated information about the as whole correctional device population, an evaluation of policy changes that have contributed to transforms in the population, and summary of the prices of offering medical care. The proof indicates that more work in refining new York’s corrections plans remains to it is in done.

In the month ahead, policy machines should carefully examine avenues to alleviate the populace of incarcerated individuals age 50 and above. Moreover, while the total cost that medical treatment for the correctional system population has declined, data concerning the cost of treatment for individuals period 50 and over remains unavailable. The room of Corrections and also Community Supervision should take procedures to do such information available to allow for much more informed factor to consider of plan alternatives.

Thomas P. Comptroller

Table the Contents

New York"s Aging jail Population

Factors Contributing to populace Change

The cost of clinical Care


New York"s Aging jail Population

New York’s in its entirety prison population has been declining. In current years, also the number of older incarcerated individuals in the correctional system has actually decreased.1 As presented in figure 1, the prison population declined by half from march 2008 come March 2021, if the number of older incarcerated individuals increased marginally end the exact same period. The latter number has declined significantly, though less dramatically, from its optimal in 2017.

FIGURE 1: population Trends in New York Prisons, 2008‑2021

YearOverall jail PopulationPrison population Aged 50+Share that Older prisoners (right axis)

Source: new York department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS).Note: all data reflect the number of individuals under custody in DOCCS infrastructure as of march 31 of each year.

Despite this current decrease, the total variety of older individuals in brand-new York prisons was still 1 percent higher in march 2021 보다 it remained in March 2008. No period segment the the’s prison populace under the period of 50 raised over the 14-year period. At the exact same time, the re-superstructure of older people in brand-new York prisons has continued to increase, more than doubling from 2008 come 2021.

The overall readjust in the number of older detainees – representing boosts from 2008 to 2017, offset in component by relatively sharp decreases from 2018 to 2021 – most likely reflects at the very least two trends: rising prison admissions minus rising parolees.

Figure 2 reflects the variety of older individuals admitted come DOCCS prisons because that a brand-new offense or for parole violations boosted by an yearly average the 3.5 percent indigenous 2008 with 2020 (data top top 2021 admissions to be not accessible at the time of publication).

FIGURE 2: new York prison Admissions, 2008‑2020

YearTotal jail AdmissionsPrison Admissions 50+Share of enlarge Admissions
2018 19.12.613.4

Source: DOCCS.Note: The data reflect admissions come DOCCS facilities during the calendar year.

The relationship of new admissions who were at least 50 year old was 75.4 percent higher in 2020 than it remained in 2008. ~ above the other hand, the number and also the percent of older individuals released native the prison device to special amnesty supervision under DOCCS jurisdiction have also been rising, as shown in figure 3.

FIGURE 3: brand-new York Parolees under DOCCS neighborhood Supervision, 2008‑2021

YearOverall Parolee PopulationParolee populace 50+Share of larger Parolees

Source: DOCCS.Note: every data reflect the number of parolees under DOCCS jurisdiction residing in the on in march 31st of every year. Parolees supervised exterior of the room not included.

The DOCCS classification of "releases" consists of release to community supervision, as well as non-community supervision releases. Releases to community supervision encompass parole, conditional release, release following participating in different programs together as medicine treatment, and also release in ~ maximum expiration the sentence. Non-community supervision releases encompass release in ~ expiration of maximum sentence, transfers to the Office of mental Health, deaths, escapes and unauthorized absences from temporary release.

On the whole, the variety of incarcerated individuals released from DOCCS facilities has actually been trending downward since 2008, as displayed in number 4.

FIGURE 4: release from brand-new York Prisons, 2008‑2020

YearReleases from DOCCS facilities

Source: DOCCS.Note: The data reflect incarcerated individuals released native DOCCS facilities during each calendar year, consisting of those released to community supervision (parole, conditional release, release complying with participating in alternate programs together as medicine treatment, and release in ~ maximum expiration the sentence) and to non-community supervision (release at expiration of maximum sentence, move to the Office of mental Health, deaths, escapes and also unauthorized absences from short-term release).

The overwhelming bulk of publication – averaging 86.8 percent over the 13-year duration – to be to community supervision, mostly in the kind of parole or conditional release.

The many recent return-to-custody research by DOCCS suggests that older persons exit from prison are much less likely come be went back to custody for a new commitment or special amnesty violation than younger individuals.2 the the persons released in 2015, the DOCCS research reflects that 33.8 percent of people in the 50 to 64 age range have been returned to custody. The only cohort through a lower percentage of return was individuals who were 65 year old and over.

Of the’s prison population of 31,262 people in in march 2021, those who were at the very least 50 years old made up 7,586 individuals, or 24.3 percent of the total, contrasted to 7,511 individuals, or 12.0 percent the the new York prison populace of 62,597 individuals, in march 2008. As of march 2021, there to be 2,483 incarcerated individuals, or 7.9 percent the the total, who were at the very least 60 year old, contrasted to 1,697, or 2.7 percent the the total, in march 2008.

The average period of incarcerated people under custody in brand-new York prisons to be 40.3 year in in march 2021, boost of 4.1 years, or 11.4 percent, since March 2008, as displayed in figure 5.

FIGURE 5: Average age of Incarcerated people in new York Prisons, 2008‑2021

YearAverage Age

Sources: DOCCS and also analysis.Note: all data reflect the variety of individuals under custody in DOCCS framework as of in march 31 of each year.

Factors Contributing to population Change

The decrease in the’s full prison population, as well as recent reduce in the variety of aging incarcerated individuals, outcomes from various components including trends in admissions and also releases to special amnesty supervision formerly discussed, but likewise from the revolutionary of the Rockefeller drug laws in 2009,3 the early release of particular individuals throughout the COVID pandemic, regulation enacted to remove all individuals under the age of 18 indigenous DOCCS prisons, and changes in details special amnesty policies and also procedures.

The many recent yearly report top top the influence of the 2009 Rockefeller drug law reforms indicates significant declines in felony drug arrests, indictments ~ above felony drug charges and also prison commitments because that felony drug crimes native 2010 v 2019, as displayed in figure 6.4

FIGURE 6: brand-new York Felony medicine Arrests, drug Indictments and Drug Commitments, 2010‑2019(at year end)
YearFelony medicine ArrestsDrug IndictmentsDrug Commitments

Source: new York department of Criminal Justice services (DCJS).

Over the 10-year period, the report registered decreases in: felony medicine arrests that 13,989 or 41.7 percent; felony medicine indictments of 5,322 or 42.6 percent; and also felony medicine prison commitments that 1,235 or 32.9 percent. The very same report likewise showed a significant decline in the number of individuals under DOCCS custody for felony medicine crimes end the last 20 years, as shown in figure 7.

FIGURE 7: people under DOCCS Custody for Felony medicine Crimes, 2000‑2019(at year end)

Source: DCJS.

Over the 20-year period, the total number of individuals under DOCCS custody dropped by 37.9 percent to simply over 44,000 in 2019, while individuals under DOCCS custody for drug crimes reduced at virtually twice that rate – by 72.4 percent – to just over 6,000 in 2019. The percent of people under custody for medicine crimes fell by much more than half from 2000 to 2019, but has ticked up in recent years.

The COVID pandemic has also influenced the variety of incarcerated individuals in the prison system. According to the testimony of exhilaration Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci in ~ a legislative budget hearing in February 2021, DOCCS “leveraged existing regulations that allowed for the early release the 3,555 non-violent, non-sex offenders” in April 2020, including 791 low-level special amnesty violators exit from local custody.5 He claimed candidates for early release additionally had to it is in at least 55 year old and within 90 job of their scheduled release.

The exhilaration Commissioner additionally testified about “modified policies and also procedures in community supervision that have actually drastically lessened the issuance of technological warrants” during the pandemic, limiting the variety of people sent ago to prison for technical parole violations. In addition, he testified the the parole Board, in consultation v DOCCS, has embraced regulations the “improved the standard problems of supervision, and modified the special amnesty revocation process, advancing both choices to incarceration options, and much shorter periods for re-incarceration, when necessary.” The efficacy that these measures in keeping public safety while reduce the as whole prison populace should be carefully monitored.

Legislation to change the criter of proof and particular procedures in stimulate to border the scenarios under which people subject come DOCCS community supervision may be re-incarcerated for technological parole hurt – together as absent an appointment v a special amnesty officer or being late for curfew – to be signed right into law by the branch in September 2021. When it takes result in in march 2022, this regulation is plan to focus DOCCS resources on “substantive parole violations” and avoid future returns to DOCCS custody or supervision.6

In addition, advanced the age legislation spreading in 2017 and totally implemented in 2020 gotten rid of all people under the age of 18 indigenous DOCCS prisons to infrastructure operated by the Office of Children and also Family Services. prisons housed over 200 sixteen- and also seventeen-year-olds in march 2008, but only 26 in march 2020.

Other actions the may element into the dimension of new York’s prison populace include medical parole and also Executive clemency. Clinical parole authorizes the release of incarcerated individuals with a condition or condition that is either terminal or for this reason debilitating that they cannot reasonably pose a hazard or danger to the public. Executive clemency gives the Governor single discretion to mitigate an individual’s prison sentence so the he or she becomes instantly eligible for release. The governor may also pardon or collection aside the conviction of individuals who have completed their sentences. However, as the Comptroller’s April 2017 report top top the’s aging prison population pointed out, neither form of activity had substantially reduced the variety of incarcerated people in brand-new York prisons. Up-to-date DOCCS data on clinical parole and also Executive clemency was not available at the moment of this report’s publication.

The cost of clinical Care

The affect of Medical prices of Aging Incarcerated Individuals

DOCCS and also other authorities have continued to determine a number of issues regarded aging incarcerated individuals, consisting of the potential for higher medical expenses to care for them. Exhilaration Commissioner Annucci has actually testified around the “higher cost for people that room older,” and has received repeated legislative inquiry for details information around the prices of providing medical solutions to aging incarcerated individuals, but has never ever been maybe to administer it. “I cannot provide you a specific dollar figure,” that testified in February 2021, “but the older you acquire in prison, the more costly level of medical treatment you are compelled to receive.”7

Overall health treatment costs because that the prison system have averaged around $350 million every year since budget Year (SFY) 2012-13, peaking at practically $400 million in SFY 2016-17 yet trending considerably lower since then, as presented in figure 8, most likely due in component to declines in the prison population.

FIGURE 8: new York DOCCS wellness Services Costs and also Costs per Person, SFY 2012‑13 – SFY 2020‑21 budget YearCostsCosts every Person

Sources: Office the the Comptroller and also DOCCS.Note: Disbursements every incarcerated individual space calculated through dividing complete disbursements because that each budget year through the variety of incarcerated people on march 31st of each year.

Over the very same time period, health care costs because that each incarcerated individual have actually averaged about $7,380 per year, climbing 29 percent greater in SFY 2020-21 than they were eight year ago.

DOCCS payment almost every one of the health care costs of people incarcerated in prisons. This is because of the truth that federal regulation (Section 1905(a) that the Social defense Act) prohibits says from using federal Medicaid accumulation to pay for such solutions in many circumstances, also if incarcerated people are eligible for and enrolled in the program.8 once incarcerated individuals are released from prison, budgetary save may result if they are enrolled in Medicaid, i beg your pardon is partly funded by the commonwealth government, or achieve other wellness coverage.

When older people are released from prison, they are at lower risk that recidivism 보다 other period cohorts, as found in the Comptroller’s April 2017 report on new York’s aging jail population, as well as DOCCS’s most recent evaluation of return-to-custody data for incarcerated individuals released indigenous prisons in 2015.9


While the as whole size of brand-new York’s prison population has been decreasing, the percent of older human being has ongoing to rise. In fact, despite a diminish in detainees aged 50 and older start in 2018, the total number of older individuals in the prison device in in march 2021 was still higher than it was 13 years ago. Policy makers should proceed to look for ways to further reduce the’s jail population, specifically older individuals who posture a reduced risk to culture at large. In particular, the influence of a new law to change DOCCS’s ar supervision program and also avoid re-admissions for technical parole violations enacted in 2021 must be closely monitored after ~ taking effect in 2022.

As noted in the Comptroller’s 2017 report ~ above this issue, older incarcerated individuals are generally much more costly come accommodate and also care for, primarily due to their better medical needs. Health treatment costs for every incarcerated people in brand-new York prisons are trending downward in addition to the prison populace itself, however remain a far-ranging burden to the at about $350 million per year. Specific cost information for individuals period 50 and over to be unavailable at the time of the 2017 report, and also remains unavailable in ~ this time. The department of Corrections and also Community Supervision need to take the steps essential to collect and share this information with policy makers, to permit for an ext informed choices about how finest to attend to this challenge.


1 This report – prefer the Office that the Comptroller’s previous report top top the topic, “New York’s Aging prison Population”, authorize in April 2017 and accessible at – defines older incarcerated individuals as those who are 50 years of age or older. The authors of an article on facilities and services for older prisoners – Anthony A. Sterns et al., “The growing Wave of larger Prisoners: A nationwide Survey the Older sinner Health, psychological Health and also Programming,” Corrections Today (August 2008) – found that 56 percent the departments of correction identified “older prisoners” together 50 years of period or older. 

6 See chapter 427 of the laws of 2021, obtainable at

7 Annucci Testimony, op. Cit.

8 Exceptions encompass when an inmate is admitted together an inpatient in a hospital, nursing facility, juvenile psychiatric facility or intermediate care facility.

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9 see The Office the the Comptroller, “New York’s Aging jail Population,” web page 3, available at, and also the DOCCS research report ~ above 2015 Releases from Custody, op. Cit.