“Life Outside” Video Series Launched to Spotlight the Aging Prison Population Crisis

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In collaboration with the Media and Idea Lab (MIL) at Columbia University, we are excited to launch “Life Outside: Rosalie Comes Home,” the first in a series of videos featuring formerly incarcerated people over the age of 60 who are released from prison after having served lengthy sentences.

The series accompanies the Center’s recently published whitepaper, “Aging in Prison: Reducing Elder Incarceration and Promoting Public Safety.” According to the report, more than 17% of New York State’s prison population is age 50 or older. The number of incarcerated individuals of age 50 and older increased 81% over the past decade. From 2007 to 2010, the number of state and federal prisoners over 65 grew 94 times faster than the general population nationwide. As of 2012, there were almost 125,000 prisoners aged 55 and older in the United States. This pace is projected to continue escalating fast for the next decades: By 2030, more than 400,000 older people are expected to be in prison, a staggering 4,400 percent increase from 1981 when there were only 8,853.


Shot entirely in New York, Life Outside’s first episode tells the story of Rosalie Cutting as she navigates the world at age 71 after serving a 27-year sentence. Throughout the video, Rosalie narrates her journey grappling with her time inside the prison walls of Bedford Hills and Taconic, where she ultimately received her GED, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, whilst developing educational programs to help other women who are incarcerated to achieve the same. “People do change,” said Cutting. “And they change because it’s a choice.”

The series is the first collaboration between the Center for Justice and MIL. “The Lab is thrilled to collaborate in this important series,” adds Frances Negrón-Muntaner, director of the Lab and the series. “Through these stories, we aim to amplify the voices of formerly incarcerated people as part of a larger dialogue about the necessity of shifting from a punitive to a transformative paradigm of justice. Coming home should not be this hard. ”