Examining the Death Attitudes of Aging Female Prisoners

Ronald Aday, Middle Tennessee State University

The notion of dying in prison is a fear that haunts the existence of almost every older prisoner. Older prisoners must cope with the thought of dying in prison as well as coping with the death of friends or family members on the outside. When combined with their own personal fears of dying and declining health, these losses can be devastating. This research explores the fear of death among 92 older female offenders with a mean age of 56 years. Using Templer's Death Anxiety Scale, the study revealed that female offenders have a higher degree of death anxiety compared to male prisoners of a comparable age. Correlates of death anxiety include the inmates functional health status, degree of anxiety and depression as well as the prison environment itself. Implications for social policy are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006