Prison for the AARP Set: Elderly Convicts Rarely Get Geriatric Parole in Virginia

NEW YORK (CBS) Everyone who's seen The Shawshank Redemption knows that elderly criminals are adorable, and that the very best thing you can do is set them adrift in a society that has no use for them. Everyone, that is, except for the state of Virginia.

According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, despite a massive budget crisis, the Virginia Department of Corrections refuses to let its old people out of jail via the mechanism of "geriatric parole." The option has been in place since 1994 as a way of releasing inmates who are "too old or infirmed (sic) to pose a likely threat to public safety," but only 15 lucky seniors in the state penal system have been recipients of it.

The problem with elderly inmates, says the Richmond Times Dispatch, is that they're expensive, particularly in terms of medical care. The other problem with elderly inmates is that most of them are in prison because they are violent offenders, and so the parole board rejects nine out of ten petitions for geriatric parole.

Virginia's AARP-eligible criminals are currently losing in the battle between public safety and the desire to balance budgets, and so the good people of Virginia can feel safe knowing that old people are kept locked up for as long as possible. Or maybe Virginians can just feel poorer. Or probably both.