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Mass., Vt. Among Leaders In Prisoner Health Care Spending

A report released Tuesday says Massachusetts and Vermont are in the top-10 among states for how much they spend on health care for prison inmates. Researchers say there is one particular reason for this trend.

The study examined how much money states spent on prisoner health care during a four-year period. In the case of Massachusetts and Vermont, each has some of the oldest prisoner populations nationwide.

“Older inmates are more susceptible to chronic medical and mental conditions, including dementia, impaired mobility and loss or hearing and vision,” says Maria Schiff, one of the study’s authors. “In prisons, these ailments necessitate increased staffing levels, more officer training and and special housing.”

Overall, both states saw expenses increase between 2007 and 2011.

As for Connecticut, with a younger prison population, its costs for prisoner health care decreased during those years, and is in the middle nationwide on how much it spends per inmate.

The study was commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the MacArthur Foundation.

Adam Frenier is a reporter for New England Public Radio.