Feb 27

Dementia Behind Bars — New York Times

The New York Times

By Pam Belluck

February 26, 2012

Life, With Dementia

The State of California is piloting a program that trains convicted felons to care for inmates suffering from dementia, a disease that is affecting a growing number of prisoners, an unforeseen consequence of get-tough-on-crime policies — long sentences that have created a large population of aging prisoners. With many prisons already overcrowded and understaffed, inmates with dementia present an especially difficult challenge.

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Secel Montgomery Sr. stabbed a woman in the stomach, chest and throat so fiercely that he lost count of the wounds he inflicted. In the nearly 25 years he has been serving a life sentence, he has gotten into fights, threatened a prison official and been caught with marijuana.

Despite that, he has recently been entrusted with an extraordinary responsibility. He and other convicted killers at the California Men’s Colony help care for prisoners with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, assisting ailing inmates with the most intimate tasks: showering, shaving, applying deodorant, even changing adult diapers.

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