Hot Topic: Nursing Homes for Sex Offenders & Violent Offenders


September 1998

Background: The Hospice Movement

The nationwide hospice movement addresses the special needs of the terminally ill. Focusing on managing pain rather than curing illness, hospice programs emphasize humane care designed to provide the best quality of life for the terminally ill. The commitment of hospice programs is to make the patient comfortable; to provide “palliative care” rather than to cure the underlying disease. 1

According to the National Prison Hospice Association, hospice “is an interdisciplinary comfort-oriented care that allows seriously ill and dying patients to die with dignity and humanity with as little pain as possible in an environment where they have mental and spiritual preparation for the natural process of dying.” Hospice programs provide a wide array of services, including pain management, spiritual support, and psychological counseling, as well as grief counseling for bereaved families.

Over the past decade, hospice programs have become increasingly common in communities around the country. The movement is also slowly gaining a foothold among state, federal, and municipal prison administrations. 1.

Prison administrators develop formal hospice programs primarily to enhance the quality of care given to dying inmates. According to Elizabeth Craig of the National Prison Hospice Association, “Hospice care is known to be effective in providing a compassionate environment for dying persons and their families. In general, the cost of hospice care is less than that of traditional treatment.”

In addition, a growing number of inmates are dying in prisons. Two primary factors are behind this increase: the prevalence of HIV infection in prison populations, and the imposition of longer prison sentences as a result of tougher sentencing laws.

..The Rest of the Report.. by U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, Information Center, Longmont, Colorado

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