COLDWATER, MI (WTVB) - Despite an overall decline in Michigan’s prison population, the number of inmates above the age of 65 increased 78 percent to 1,073 during the past decade with many of them behind bars in Coldwater. Those inmates make up about 2.5 percent of the prison system, but with more baby boomers entering old age, that number will only go up. The Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater houses many of the system's oldest prisoners, including the oldest, 88-year old Pinkie Lee McCoy, who was convicted of three counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct against a minor in St. Clair County in 2000. Many of the four dozen prisoners who are 80 or older reside in Lakeland, although there are inmates of all ages at the facility.
Joanne Sheldon, the health services administrator for the Michigan Department of Corrections, says the most pressing issue when dealing with older inmates is health care. According to Sheldon, with about $300 million of an almost $2 billion budget going toward medical care, health is a substantial cost across the board. She also said that since the prison population ages much quicker, the department also is looking at reclassifying what it considers at-risk age groups, possibly dropping the target age range from the traditional 65 and older to as low as 45 years old.