Participation of older prisoners in correctional programmes: Is age a determining factor for engagement?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingMeeting abstract (Book)


Purpose: Research has shown the importance of participation in correctional programmes (e.g. sport activities, education, vocational training, socio-cultural training courses, mental health care). Although the proportion of older prisoners is increasing, their needs are seldom taken into account in designing these programmes. The purpose of this study is to get insight into the participation rates of older prisoners to see whether they find access to the different programmes.

Methods: Based on a quantitative survey this study investigates the relationship between age and participation in correctional programmes. Data from 486 prisoners who are confined in one prison in the Northern part of Flanders (Belgium) are analysed. In order to answer the research questions bivariate analyses are performed.

Results: The findings indicate that older prisoners (50+) participated more in none or only one correctional programme compared to younger prisoners (18-25 year) and adults (26-50). Older prisoners especially appealed more to mental health care services compared to younger prisoners. Sport activities and vocational training reached mainly younger prisoners. Considering educational courses, older prisoners participated less than adults, but more than the youngest prisoners. Finally, there was no relationship between following a socio-cultural training course and age.

Conclusions: Age is an overall determining factor for participation, but this relation depends on the kind of programme. The article concludes by discussing some practical and policy recommendations to increase the access of older prisoners to these programmes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication37ste Wintermeeting, Belgische Vereniging voor Gerontologie en Geriatrie, Oostende
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Older people
  • prison
  • correctional programmes
  • Participation


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