Three Ways to Use Inmate Grievances to Improve Health Care

Frau mit DosentelefonInmate grievances are a standard mechanism for prisoners to request changes and express discontent with a variety of conditions of confinement such as housing, officer treatment, and inadequate medical care.  Although many in correctional health care see the grievance process as a tedious necessity, inmate medical grievances can be a rich source of information for uncovering system flaws. This patient feedback can actually help improve the quality of your patient outcomes, reduce clinical error, and avoid legal liability. Here are three important ways to use inmate grievances to help provide quality correctional health care.

Fix System Problems

“Last month Doc said I was going for tests about my liver. I haven’t seen my name on the call out list yet. Please help!”

Grievances can sometime unearth major system troubles. A common area of weak systems is the process for outside diagnostic testing. No doubt about it, there is no easy way to get our patients scheduled for a liver biopsy, coordinate officer transport, and the various other arrangements necessary for a successful procedure. The investigation of this grievance revealed that several patient tests had dropped off the log during an extended family leave for the medical unit clerk. Staff turnover can lead to system issues if there are no cross-trained staff to keep processes going. This issue was revealed and resolved through an inmate grievance.

Resolve Staff Issues

“I keep turning in sick call slips but no one will see me in medical. I need some attention right now!”

Sometimes inmate grievances are the result of unreasonable expectations and, after investigation, result in educating the patient about the process of requesting and receiving health care. This request, however, resulted in the discovery that the evening shift nurse, whose post duties included rounding to collect sick call slips, was discarding some slips that she determined were unnecessary to process. Resolving the cause of this grievance may have prevented future patient harm by identifying poor staff behaviors. The immediate result of the investigation was termination of the staff member.

Correct Communication Concerns

“My toe is swollen and infected. I was told I would get better shoes months ago. No one is listening to me.”

This older diabetic inmate rightly needed special foot wear and the state prison system he was in had a good process set up for providing them when necessary. However, the communication between medical and procurement in this particular prison was faulty. Good investigation of this medical grievance revealed the disconnect and initiated a change in communication among facility departments that resulted in faster procurement of medically necessary items such as these shoes.

It can be easy to become tone-deaf to complaints of our patients generated through the inmate grievance process. This is a mistake. Granted, some complaints may be unfounded, but all complaints deserve to be investigated.

To use inmate grievances effectively, a system is needed for investigating grievances, answering them, and tabulating any trends. Here are some tips for a smooth-running grievance process:

  • Have a designated individual handle all medical grievances. If you are a one-person department, that would be you; however, if more options are available, pick someone who has a genuine interest in patient satisfaction or quality improvement. A single communication point for grievances means relationships can be built among those in the facility most likely to be regularly handling inmate complaints; thus speeding results. This also provides a consistent contact point when addressing issues with the patient population.
  • Make sure your system is set up to address grievances promptly. Consider grievances like sick call request and turn around a first response in 48-72 hours. A complicated issue may take more time to resolve but you patients should to know they are being heard and that the wheels are in motion.
  • Categorize grievances related to common quality issues once an investigation of the situation indicates a primary cause. Here are some suggested categories:

o   Capacity Issues: Staffing/Supplies

o   Communication

o   Patient Information/Understanding

o   Staff Issues: Knowledge, Accountability, Skill

o   System/Process Issues

  • Tabulate grievance themes in your quality improvement program and investigate trending issues with a formal process or outcome study. Once a trend is seen, a quality improvement study will validate a quality problem and provide baseline data for tracking the outcome of system changes.

Inmate grievances can be a useful source of information about your clinical program. How are you using inmate grievances? Share your experiences in the comments section of this post.

PS – You still have time to get a free downloadable copy of my new ebook – The Correctional Nurse Manifesto – by signing up for my email list. Use this link Hurry! Offer ends July 5!

Photo Credit: © puje –

Scope and Standards: Care Settings

This post is part of an ongoing series discussing key components of the Correctional Nursing Scope and Standard of Practice, 2nd Ed. Review prior posts in this series here. Purchase your own copy of this highly recommended book through Amazon (affiliate link).

Prison interiorThe other day I was trying to explain correctional healthcare to an attorney who was considering taking on a case involving care in a county prison. I was familiar with the facility and told her that although the facility’s name used the word prison, it was really a jail. Thus began an extended conversation about the differences between a prison and a jail and why that might matter to the case and the clinical experts she would want to engage. One of the challenges of correctional nursing advancement is the great diversity of practice settings in which we work.

In an earlier post I discussed the definition of correction nursing, which encompasses the ANA definition of professional nursing tempered by the particular location of the criminal justice system. This location defines our practice being framed by our patient population (discussed here) and our care setting. The care setting is a unique component of correctional nursing and part of our scope of practice.

Where in the Pipeline

Our care location is first defined by where our patients are in the criminal justice process. The two primary areas are jails and prisons but I have also been involved in nursing care consultations that involved courtroom detainment and half-way houses after release. Our correctional patients can also be found in locked hospital units and addiction treatment centers.

Jail – The majority of arrested individuals are brought to a jail. Jail detainees may be awaiting a court hearing, trial, or sentencing. Many jails also hold those sentenced to a term less than one year as transfer into the prison system would not be cost effective and 12 month or less sentences are rarely high security issues. Jail health care, especially in urban areas, involves high concern for drug and alcohol withdrawal. Jails also have higher suicide rates than prisons so this is also a top-of-mind issue in this setting. Jails have a high rate of turnover, with people coming in for short stays before being released or bonded out to await trial. Therefore, it can be difficult to keep track of your patients and manage chronic care issues or diagnostic follow-through.

Prison – Once convicted of a crime and sentenced to longer than 12 months, an inmate is transferred to prison. Depending on the type of crime, this could be a state or federal prison. Each prison system designates intake facilities that evaluate and classify inmates as to security level and, possibly,  healthcare requirements. Security classification is primarily determined by violence potential and escape risk, although some systems also house sex offenders or gang members in separate locations. Health requirements can affect classification if the system has a central hospital facility or a working prison such as a farm or industrial site. Prison health care is generally more stable than jail health care as the patient population is less transient.

Mixture – Smaller states combined the jail and prison system. Delaware, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have combined jail and prison systems where both detainees and sentenced inmates reside.

Who is in Charge?

The government entity in charge of the criminal justice setting also changes based on location within the system. For example, most jails are managed the county government, although some large urban jails are managed by city officials. Prisons are managed by the state or federal government. The chief executive of a jail may be a sheriff or a jail administrator who reports to the sheriff while the chief executive for a prison most often holds the title of warden. A jail may have deputies as officers while a prison may use the term custody officer or correctional officer (CO).

Age Matters

Offenders under the age of 18 are usually held in juvenile or youth facilities. Some youth are also held in adult facilities if they have been sentenced for an adult crime.

Picture This

Here is a graphic representation I like to use to help visually describe the primary components of the criminal justice system.

Location of Care

This is a fairly simple explanation of the criminal justice system – the setting of correctional nursing practice. After talking with the attorney, she decided she needed a jail nurse expert for her case.  Have you ever tried to describe the criminal justice system to another nurse or care provider? How do you do it? Share your tips in the comments section of this post.

Photo Credit: © viperagp –

April 2014 Correctional Healthcare News Round-Up (podcast)


cnt-podcast_cover_art-1400x1400In this monthly round-up of correctional healthcare news Lorry is joined by Sue Smith and Denise Rahaman.

Story #1 Hepatitis C Prevalence and Treatment

Communicable disease makes the news this month with research out of Emory University under the direction of Dr. Ann Spaulding; well–known in correctional circles. Her group found that 17.4% of prisoners are infected with HCV – under earlier estimates of 25%.

This finding is coupled with a second story from USA Today questioning whether prisoners should get expensive Hepatitis C treatment. The cost of treating a single person is $65-170,000 per year using recently developed drug treatment. How do we deal with this ethical dilemma of “treat or not treat”?

 Story #2 – Inmates with HIV benefited from treatment in prison

Disease treatment is certainly effective in prisons, as highlighted by our second story out of Infectious Diseases News. Dr. Jaimie Meyer and colleagues from Yale School of Medicine found that the highly structured environment of prison is good for HIV treatment. I think we have all seen that to be true in our own experience, but, would you agree with Dr. Mike Puisis’ response that there is still much more to be done?

Story #3 – New NCCHC Standards Published

Story number 3 is about the much anticipated new accreditation standards from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC). Although education about the standards began last fall, they were unveiled for the first time earlier this month at the spring conference in Atlanta. I have mine on order but am already beginning to digest the changes. Facilities are scrambling to review changes and make program alterations accordingly. The implementation date for the 2014 Standards is October 1, 2014.

According to the NCCHC website

  • Facilities with on-site accreditation surveys scheduled on or before October 1, 2014, will have the choice of being surveyed under the 2008 edition or the 2014 edition of the standards.
  • Facilities surveyed under the 2008 edition would then be required to submit a plan to meet the 2014 standards by October 1, 2014
  • Facilities with on-site accreditation surveys scheduled after October 1, 2014 will be surveyed under the 2014 standards.

The Standards Change also affects those sitting for the Certified Correctional Health Professional (CCHP) exam:

  • Exams conducted before or on October 1 will refer to the 2008 Standards.
  • Exams conducted after October 1 will refer to the 2014 Standards.

Story #4 – Prison Terminal Documentary on HBO

Our last story is some happy news for our friend and independent film producer Edgar Barens. His film, Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall, was nominated for an Oscar this past month. It has been airing on HBO and providing a public forum to discuss terminal illness and hospice care behind bars. As a note to our listeners, more information about the video can be found at

There are many articles available, I selected one from Newsweek. In this interview Edgar is quoted as saying “We still owe people like Jack a dignified death”. In many ways, I think that sums up a lot of what correctional nursing is all about – no matter the crimes of an individual – By virtue of their humanity, we owe them respectful care.

Also in this episode:

What’s Bugging You? Lice Identification and Treatment

baboon grooming another closeup isolated on blackDuring a jail intake for a homeless man brought in for vagrancy, a nurse sees some tiny insects flying about his clothing and he is scratching at them as she interviews him. She is concerned that an infestation may result and initiates a protocol for lice which involves shampooing and showering with the insecticide permethrin and a special laundering process for all clothing. Was this the right action?

Correctional nurses need to be aware of various infestations as a high percentage of inmates in some locales are prone to head, body, and pubic lice. Once these little hitchhikers enter a facility they can spread by direct physical contact or through sharing of personal items like clothing, bedding, or towels. Was this patient infected with lice? Let’s look at some information about these little critters.

Do lice fly?

Lice remain on a person’s hair or clothing and wander to the skin to blood feed once or more often each day. They have tiny straw-like mouthparts – similar to those of mosquitoes – that they use to suck blood from skin capillaries. They’re unable to burrow into the skin. Lice never develop wings, so they cannot fly.  They’re also incapable of jumping. So, this patient did not have lice.

Lice cause itching

Lice may cause an allergic reaction that can cause itching. For head lice, the itching tends to be mild and temporary.  Body lice tend to cause far more itching, and even make the infested person feel ‘lousy’. Public lice tend to cause much itching in the affected area.  This patient’s itching may be caused by the insect in question but further investigation is needed.

Lice are not very common

Lice are not nearly as prevalent as is generally believed, and other creatures and objects on a person are frequently mistaken for lice.  Other insects include fleas, ticks, mites and bedbugs. None of these insects have wings, though. The homeless man in our case may merely have gnats or fruit flies about his person.

Lice are relatively tiny – as small as a poppy seed and as large as a sesame seed. A screener must have good eyesight, be close enough to see the creature, use a magnifying lens, and some expertise to identify lice; distinguishing them from other insects. In fact, other kinds of insects and even bits of debris are frequently mistaken to be lice. As in this case, misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment can be frequent.

When in doubt – don’t treat

Treating everyone who enters a facility is not a good idea; nor is it cost effective. Treatment focused just on those infested is consistent with sound medical practice.  It can also dramatically save time and precious funds; while reducing the risk of lawsuit. The standard medications used in prisons for delousing contain the insecticides permethrin and pyrethrins. These have become less effective as resistance is becoming widespread.

When positive lice identification is confirmed, treatment can be ordered as follows:

  • Head lice can be treated with one or two 10-minute applications of a pediculicide.
  • Body lice usually require no treatment to the person. Instead, a person with body lice should bathe and change into prison-issued clothing. The infested clothing should be disinsected by proper laundering, or disposed of.  If body lice are detected on the body hairs of a person, a full-body treatment with a pediculicide is needed.
  • Pubic lice would necessitate treatment to the affected area only.

Ongoing prevention measures for lice include frequent (at least weekly) laundering of clothing and linens, and early recognition and treatment of genuine infestations.  The Federal Bureau of Prisons Lice and Scabies Protocol of March 2011 recommends the following actions:

  • Be sure laundry temperatures are set to at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit to kill lice and their eggs on linens and clothing. Use a hot cycle for drying, as well.
  • Educate inmates about lice and how to get treatment if they observe lice. The FBOP Protocol includes inmate education handouts that might be helpful.
  • Inmates should not be transferred to other facilities until 24 hours after initiation of treatment.  If moved before the 2nd treatment application (7 days), communication and continuation of treatment should be provided.

How are you managing lice, bedbugs, fleas, and ticks in your facility? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

Photo Credit: © Sascha Burkard –

Scope and Standards: New Definition of Correctional Nursing

ANA StandardsHow has professional nursing practice in the correctional setting changed and evolved over the last decade? When discussing any concept, the first place to start is with a definition. How has the definition of correctional nursing changed over the years?

To start with, the very name of our specialty has moved from corrections nursing to correctional nursing. This name change indicates a movement away from purely defining nursing practice based on location. Similar evolutions have taken place in such specialties as emergency nursing (no longer Emergency Room Nursing) and Perioperative Nursing (no longer Operating Room Nursing).

Definition of Corrections Nursing in 2007

Corrections nursing is the practice of nursing and the delivery of patient care within the unique and distinct environment of the criminal justice system.

As the general definition of nursing has progressed, so has the definition of correctional nursing. This edition of the Correctional Nursing Scope and Standards of Correctional Nursing unveils an expanded definition of correctional nursing which mirrors the 2010 ANA definition of nursing.

Definition of Correctional Nursing in 2013

Correctional nursing is the protection, promotion and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, advocacy, and delivery of health care to individuals, families, communities, and populations under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system.

Nurses practice professionally in every setting. Therefore, the core components of correctional nursing include protecting, promoting, and optimizing the health and abilities of patients. Nurses in all practice settings, including corrections, prevent illness and injury while alleviating suffering. Correctional nurses, as those in other settings, diagnose and treat the human response to illness and injury. They advocate for their patient’s health and deliver health care to individuals, families, communities, and populations.

The location of care – under the jurisdiction of the criminal justice system – does give context to the practice of nursing. The criminal justice system presents the unique environmental constraints and ethical dilemmas of our specialty. In addition, the criminal justice system creates a unique patient population for nursing care. This patient population has demographic characteristics and illness patterns that require specialized nursing knowledge. The combination of environment and patient can lead to specific patient advocacy situations for correctional nurses.

What do you think of the new definition of correctional nursing? Share your thoughts in the comment section of this post.

The full Correctional Nursing Scope and Standards of Practice, 2nd Ed. Is available through

Top Six Posts of 2013

six balloonsThank you for being a part of CorrectionalNurse.Net this past year! Your comments and suggestions make this blog a helpful resource for nurses new to the specialty and those interested in keeping abreast of the latest news and information important to working in jails and prisons. In fact, my goal for this blog is:

Informing, encouraging, and inspiring nurses who care for vulnerable, marginalized patients in the low resourced, ethically challenging criminal justice system.

This blog has been around for more than 4 years now and has over 250 informational posts in a variety of categories. Search by key word using the search field in the upper right or by category using the drop-down menu on the right sidebar.

Here are the six most popular posts in 2013. Check them out if you missed them when they originally aired. Stay tuned for more great information in the year ahead. I hope you visit often and include your views by commenting frequently.

#6 Confidentiality, HIPAA, and the Correctional Nurse

Concern continues for the confidentiality of patient medical information. Correctional nurses must navigate within a security system that often requires the exchange of medical information for safety and good patient care. What medical information can be shared? This post provides information directly from the HIPAA code that specifically addresses the correctional setting.

#5 Women’s Health in Prison

Women may only constitute 7-12% of the incarcerated population, but their healthcare needs can be great. Maybe increased interest this year can be attributed to the popular Netflix show “Orange is the New Black” – a portrayal of life in a female federal prison.

#4 Taser Injury – The Stunning Truth

Correctional nurses take care of an extensive variety of conditions and some that are rare in more traditional settings. Taser injury is one such unusual care situation. This post covers assessing and treating post-taser wounds as well as what conditions render persons at high risk for increased injury from being tased.

#3 8 Medication Rights – Not 5?

Just when you think you are up-to-date something changes. That is life as a practicing nurse. This post adds three new ‘rights’ to the classic 5-rights of medication administration and is actually reposted from the blog of a fellow nurse. A great review!

#2 Interview Guide: Part I   Part II

Many nurses discover this blog while looking for help in preparing for their first interview for a correctional nursing position. This 2-part series shares tips for determining if a correctional setting will be a safe work environment along with questions that may be asked during the interview.

#1 Dental Issues for Correctional Nurses

By far, dental issues were the greatest learning curve for me in entering this specialty. This post has some great pictures provided by Dr. Stephen Mitchell and is a big help for nurses who need to know what is routine and what is a possible emergency when dealing with dental conditions.

What was your favorite post of 2013? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: © Kyrylo Grekov –

December 2013 News Round-Up (podcast)


cnt-podcast_cover_art-1400x1400Regular panelists Johnnie Lambert, Mari Knight, and Margaret Collatt help us close out the year with discussion of December 2013 correctional healthcare news. Let’s roll……

Story #1: Eye Care Rare Among Low Income Diabetics – Implications for Correctional Nursing?

Our first story, while not specifically about correctional healthcare has a very real connection for our consideration. A Reuter’s news story reports on a study finding that young low-income diabetics are not attending to their eyes. Our inmate population fits this profile – young, low-income and often diabetic. Are their implications for our patient care here?

Story #2: Psychiatrist Shortages in Corrections?

Our next story is from the California Prison System. California Healthline reports that the state prison hospital has had to cut services and reduce admissions due to a psychiatrist shortage.

Story #3: Orange is the New Black and Women’s Prisons Portrayal

Story #3 from the Washington Post lauds the Netflix series ‘Orange is the New Black’ as a fairly accurate portrayal of a women’s prison. Do you think having a program based on a women’s prison might be helpful in raising awareness of incarcerated women and their plight?

Story #4: Mother Antonia Passes

Our final news item is the sad report that Mother Antonia Brenner has passed on. She was dubbed the Prison Angel for her work with the poor and imprisoned in Tijuana, Mexico. She has an amazing story. Her prison worked grew from her charity work among the poor in California where she was a twice divorced mother of eight children. Eventually she moved into a cell in the Tijuana Prison to more fully experience the lives of those she served. Hers is an inspiring story of kindness and sacrifice.

What is your take on the December news? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

Christmas is About the Children

Little child decorating christmas tree

With my grandson nearly 3 years old, our Christmas this year is full of toys and wonder and a reminder of the Babe long ago who brought hope to the world; whose birth we are celebrating. Christmas is definitely a time for children and a reminder of how many children have parents behind bars in our country. These young victims of their parent’s crimes suffer grave consequences, including separation from their parents during the holiday season.

According to the Bureau of Justice, 1.75 million children have a parent in a state or federal prison this Christmas. Many inmates have multiple children and the Sentencing Project estimates that 1 in every 50 children in this country has a parent behind bars. These are sobering numbers amid the lights and glitter of our holiday celebrating.

Children in this situation may be lonely and feel alienated from the season’s festivities. Even if able, visiting a parent in prison during this time of year can bring more sadness than cheer; emphasizing the obvious separation.  Distance and lack of financial resources may make visiting impossible and incarcerated parents may be unable to afford providing even a token gift for a child.

If the incarcerated parent is also the primary care provider, the child may be living in foster care. More fortunate children may have a loving extended family member willing to provide support and supervision during this period. According to an economic study of incarcerated families, children with incarcerated parents are more likely to have difficulty in school with more aggressive behavior noted among boys and an increased chance of being expelled or suspended.

Most of us will not be able to make as great an impact as 2012 Miss America, Lauren Kaeppeler, who is using her platform to bring more attention to the plight of kids of incarcerated parents. Her father was incarcerated when she was a teenager and she has first-hand experience of the effects of a parent behind bars. However, every one of us can do something. Here are just a few of the organizations that are helping our patient’s children cope with the impact of prison on their lives. This Christmas season, consider contributing to one of these charities, or another you may be aware of in your community:

Prison Fellowship: Angel Tree

Camp Spaulding – New Hampshire

Children of Promise – New York City

New Hope – Oklahoma

Does your facility do anything for inmates and their children on Christmas? Could they? Share your thoughts in the comments section of this post.

Photo Credit: © allari –

Vicarious Traumatization in Correctional Nursing (podcast)


cnt-podcast_cover_art-1400x1400Have you ever felt traumatized at the end of your work day? Maybe you have gone through periods of feeling very burned out in your nursing practice. In this episode I talk with Tanya Munger about her research into vicarious traumatization of correctional nurses. She surveyed correctional nurses from around the country about their experiences with this phenomenon. Tanya Munger, MSN, FNP-BC, CNOR, CCHP, is Clinical Instructor, Department of Health Systems Science, UI College of Nursing at Rockford, IL. She worked as a nurse practitioner with UIC College of Medicine inside of the Winnebago County Jail, the second largest county jail in the state of Illinois.

What is vicarious trauma?

Vicarious trauma is the result of taking on and absorbing disturbing aspects of the traumatic experiences of others, such as our patients. As correctional nurses we work in a harsh system among patients who often have very painful background full of violence and abuse. Regular contact can result in integration of this post-traumatic stress into our own functioning resulting in a variety of alarming symptoms such as flashbacks, nightmares, intrusive thoughts, depression, and sleeplessness.

What can you do about vicarious trauma?

What should you do if you think you are absorbing the traumatic experiences of others? First, be aware of this possibility and monitor yourself. Be sure to take care of yourself, getting enough rest, health food and activity. Traumatic stress can get you off balance and it might take conscious effort to return to a balanced lifestyle. Find ways to separate yourself from your patient. Remind yourself that this is not your pain. You may be holding it or helping with it, but it is not you. Look for small and large ways to renew yourself. Do what works – which can be different for everyone. Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, creative arts are some small regular options. Larger ways might be taking a real vacation away from your worksite to totally unplug, drain your stress, and re-center yourself. Certainly, if you are experiencing serious or debilitating symptoms, it is time to seek help through counseling or healthcare services. Read more about this condition from the resource links below.


Burnout, vicarious traumatization and its prevention

For Professionals: Vicarious Trauma

Announcements – Reader Survey

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November 2013 News Round-Up: Pew Report on Prison Healthcare Spending (podcast)


cnt-podcast_cover_art-1400x1400Our panel of nurse experts drills deep into the recently published Pew Report on Prison Healthcare Spending to discuss implications and compare their experiences with the report’s recommendations. Panelists include Johnnie Lambert, correctional nurse and Vice-President, Clinical Operations, Policy and Accreditation with Armor Correctional Health Services, Inc. ; Mari Knight, Mid-Atlantic Transition, Training and HSA Support Nurse for Conmed Healthcare Management; and Catherine Knox, correctional nurse consultant from Portland Oregon.

The Pew Report on Prison Healthcare Spending is an extensive document chronicling the rising expense of providing healthcare to our inmate patients. It identifies trends we are all too aware of with familiar causes such as aging patients with high prevalence of infectious and chronic diseases, as well as mental illness and substance abuse. The report also describes challenges we have with location, transportation, and staffing – which we don’t often see in print. Since the mid 1970’s when inmate healthcare was established as a constitutional right, correctional healthcare costs have risen almost 700%. The first part of the report lays the groundwork for why correctional healthcare costs are escalating. The later half of the report documents various state responses to increasing prison healthcare costs. Examples provided include telehealth, outsourcing care, Medicaid financing, and medical or geriatric parole. Panelists provide thoughts on the uses of telehealth described in the report and whether we have fully exploited this technology in corrections. Outsourcing is also explored and panelists agree that this is a promising cost containment strategy. The third theme of the report is Medicaid financing. In some ways this seems like cost shifting (from state to federal tax dollars) rather than cost savings, but there are ways to make it work. The final theme offered in the Pew report is the use of medical or geriatric parole. The report suggests that recidivism is low among elderly inmates but acknowledges this is a political hot potato. Correctional systems need to carefully implement this strategy to make it work.