Skip to main content

Health care costs climb for aging Minn. prisoners

  • Author:
  • Updated:

As health care costs continue to rise, so does the aging population of prisoners in state correctional facilities, which cost Minnesota $65 million in medical expenses last fiscal year.

KSTP reports the average cost of health care for an inmate was about $7,000 in 2012, double the cost in 2000.

Terry Carlson, deputy commissioner of the institutions division for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, tells KSTP as the average prisoner gets older, health problems become are more prevalent.

"There are issues like diabetes. There are issues of cancer. There are issues of dementia," Carlson says.

About 14 percent of inmates in Minnesota are now over the age of 50.

The state is looking for ways to bring down prices for the most expensive services. In the meantime, more beds have become available for inmates that require around the clock care or have mobility issues.

Also, certain in-house services like dialysis and mammograms have been moved in-house so patients don't have to go to outside facilities to get care.

According to a USA TODAY report, the growing number of older prisoners represents a potential fiscal time bomb because nearly all expenses are paid for with state tax dollars.

"We have created this situation where people are destined to do long terms in a criminal justice system that was not designed to be a long-term care facility," said Tina Maschi, a Fordham University professor who is conducting a study on New Jersey's older inmate population.

There were an estimated 246,000 people over 50 behind bars in the country last year.

Next Up

Hopkins Basketball

Hopkins suffers rare loss to No. 1 ranked Sidwell Friends

The Royals held their own in a battle of the nation's best.

argue-wertman booking photos

Charges: 2 teens responsible for violent carjacking spree across Twin Cities

They face a combined 31 felony counts, all tied to carjackings and related crimes.

rep nolan west mn house

MN rep. says he was 'assaulted' at activist group's public meeting

The Republican said a man grabbed his arms and yanked him from the room.

Screen Shot 2022-01-20 at 12.56.52 PM

What were the 'bizarre things' seen in Minnesota's sky?

The mysterious streaks were not UFOs and they weren't pieces of an asteroid.

icicles, freezing weather, cold weather

Booming noises in the night could be frost quakes

The loud sounds are most likely to happen during the middle of the night.

coronavirus, coronavirus test, covid-19

Free COVID testing site to open in St. Paul for 3 weeks

The federal testing site comes as demand for testing remains high.

Reyel Simmons photo 1 - complaint - crop

MN TikToker accused of faking federal agent life pleads guilty

He told his 10,000 followers he was a Homeland Security agent — authorities say it was a lie.


Report: Vikings request second interview with 2 GM candidates

Ryan Poles of the Chiefs and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Browns.

Amaya Battle

Hopkins takes on No. 1 team in the country on ESPNU Friday

The game will feature a pair of top recruits in the Class of 2022.

st. paul federation of educators - teachers

Educators in Minneapolis, St. Paul could strike amid contract negotiations

Teachers and support staff are demanding smaller class sizes, mental health support and better pay.

turtinen two harbors

MN mayor in hot water for hawking $400M underwater hotel plan

The city council called a special meeting to discuss the mayor's public comments.


Cost of child care exceeds college tuition in Minn.

A new national report shows it costs more to place an infant in a Minnesota day care center than a year of state college tuition, the Star Tribune reports. The advocacy group Child Aware of America names Minnesota the nation's second costliest state for center-based day care. The newspaper writes one year of infant care in a center cost $13,579 in Minnesota, while one year for a preschooler cost $10,470. In 17 states, a year of infant care cost less than $8,000.