European Society of Criminology Annual Conference 2012

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesContribution to conference


Psychological Distress among Older Prisoners Older prisoners are the fastest growing subgroup of inmates in many countries, including in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. Older people constitute a special needs group of prisoners, and further information regarding this population is required to facilitate appropriate responses by correctional services. One particular concern is the wellbeing of older prisoners, whom the previous quantitative literature has characterised as a largely neglected and marginalised group. This research presents findings from a quantitative cross-sectional study of 173 older prisoners and 60 younger prisoners in two Australian states. The study examined the level of psychological distress among older prisoners, and provides a comparison to the younger prisoner sample and older people in the general community. Correlates of distress were also examined, including associations with socio-demographic and criminal justice characteristics, as well as physical and mental health status in this group. Initial findings demonstrate that the older prisoner group display significantly higher distress levels compared to older people in the general population, with older female prisoners evidencing particularly high levels of distress. While mental health history is associated with distress levels, current health issues and physical functioning also appear to contribute to older inmates’ levels of distress in prison. The findings can assist in identification of older prisoner subgroups at risk of high distress in prison, as well as potential intervention strategies for improving older prisoner wellbeing.
Event typeConference
LocationBilbao, SpainShow on map


  • older prisoners
  • aging prisoners
  • psychological distress