Aging and the Criminal Justice System

Photo by Ron Levine, Prisoners of Age

Photo by Ron Levine, Prisoners of Age

Team Leader: Dr. Tina Maschi

Aging, Health, and Human Rights

Team Leader: Dr. Tina Maschi

The overarching purpose of the Aging and the Criminal Justice System, Trauma, Aging, and Well-Being, and Intergenerational Family and Community Justice Initiatives are to bring together local and global scholars, practitioners, and key local and global stakeholders committed to achieving universal peace and well-being by examining and developing innovative responses to experiences of intergenerational trauma, violence, abuse, stress, grief and loss, and health and structural/legal disparities across the life course. Of particular concern is the impact of trauma and incarceration on the elderly in prison and their families and communities.

The research generated from this project focuses on culturally diverse older adults and their families and their intersectional identities that may cause cumulative inequalities across the life course. Many members of these populations reside in service settings, such as the family home, public housing, and short- and long-term institutional settings, while others confront service systems addressing interpersonal and social/structural violence and cumulative trauma and stress, child, adult or elder abuse, homelessness, war and mass trauma, and criminal justice involvement.

Drawing from a human rights and social justice based perspective, this initiative will forge a collaborative interdisciplinary response using research, scholarship, practice, advocacy, support, outreach, and interprofessional education addressing the following key areas of practice and policy:

(1) understanding the etiological roles of interpersonal, structural, and historical trauma, violence, abuse, stress, and stigma and discrimination as social determinants of health and well-being across the life course, especially serious mental illnesses, such as dementia;

(2) examining the role of oppression and vulnerabilities (e.g., age, race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, immigration and legal status, physical and mental health status, disability, geographic location, and veteran status) that may influence exposure to trauma, stress, and mistreatment across the life course;

(3) developing conceptual frameworks and theories that account for multi-systemic factors that foster holistic well-being, resilience, and empowerment across generations;

(4) exploring innovative research and evaluation methodologies to generate new knowledge and evidence-informed and evidence-based practices, policies, and advocacy;

(5) developing and testing theory-driven alternative prevention and intervention models that address physical, cognitive, emotional, social, cultural, spiritual, participatory well-being associated with trauma and stress and that may reduce risk and foster resilience among individuals, families, and communities. Such multisystemic models may include trauma-informed and empowerment prevention, assessment, and intervention practices, culturally responsive intergenerational family and community interventions, victim advocacy, restorative justice, conflict resolution approaches, peer support and advocacy programs, intergenerational mentoring, forgiveness, care coordination, community violence prevention, and interprofessional huma rights education and advocacy;

(6) analysis of existing or pending human rights guidelines and laws, evidence-based and evidence informed policy and advocacy efforts and alternative research methodologies that improve the response to trauma and justice and the treatment of victims and offenders trauma and justice, their families and their communities. Some examples for policy analysis include national/international and state level policy reforms (e.g., U.S. Affordable Care Act-Elder Justice Act and the Older Americans Act). Research findings may ultimately contribute to implementation of United Nations guidelines, including a Convention on Rights for Older Persons and Persons with Disabilities.

(7) foster innovative human rights based strategies for peace and creative conflict resolution


Publications, Reports or White Papers for Each of These Project Can Be Found at the Publications Link


Active Research and Evaluation Studies

  • Trauma, Coping, and Well-Being Among Older Adults in Prison (Principal Investigator: Dr. Tina Maschi, as part of the Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholars Project Funded by the Gerontological Society of America and the John A. Hartford Foundation)
  • Community Reintegration and Reunification of Aging People in Prison to their Families and Community: Perspectives of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Older Adults, Family Members, Service Providers, and Other Key Stakeholders
  • Trauma, Stress and Resilient Coping in Prison
  • Rainbow Justice: Perspectives of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated LGBT Elders, Service Providers, and Other Key Stakeholders
  • Multi-State Analysis of the Aging in Prison Crisis: Current Statewide Projects in New York, New Jersey, and Vermont
  • Aging, Health, and Justice Policy Analysis Project

 Working with Elders in the Criminal Justice System: Agency Staff Training

Working with Elders in the Criminal Justice System is a  training to prepare interdisciplinary professionals for forensic practice with older adults.  For interested agencies, an interdisciplinary training is available to train your staff. For more information, please contact Tina Maschi at


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