Michael S. WIlliamson for the Washington Post was inside Deerfield Correctional Center earlier this month and photographed the aging and sick prison population.

From The Washington Post:

Deerfield, Virginia’s only geriatric prison, is where the state’s inmates are sent to grow old. They’re transferred to this facility in Capron, near the North Carolina border, when they’re too weak to stand or feed themselves, when they don’t have much time left.

Since the General Assembly abolished parole for the newly convicted in 1995, the number of elderly inmates in custody has soared. In 1990, there were 900 inmates over the age of 50. Now there are more than 5,000. Deerfield Correctional, which once housed 400 inmates, has become a 1,000-bed facility with a long waiting list.

“We’re left trying to be both a nursing home and a prison,” said warden Keith Davis

SOURCE: Virginia Department of Corrections, The Washington Post – Sept. 8, 2010

Since the General Assembly abolished parole in 1995, Virginia has been forced to care for more and more elderly prisoners. In 2008, 12 percent of Virginia’s prison population was age 50 or older, up from less than 5 percent in 1990.