A 63-year-old-man gets charged with assault and possession of a dangerous weapon when breaking into a New Britain Dunkin’ Donuts. A 71-year-old-woman gets arrested for prostitution in Glastonbury, Connecticut. A 114-year-old man is found in possession of over seven tons of marijuana. No, these aren’t scenes out of Breaking Bad, they are real crimes committed by the elderly. While these crimes were not committed by Walter White, Jesse Pinkman’s words to him ring true – “Some straight like you, age – what, 50? He’s just gonna break bad? It’s weird is all, okay? It doesn’t compute.” Many people can probably relate to Jesse’s reaction, scratching their heads at the notion that people would wait until they reach their 50s, 60s or 70s to begin committing crimes.
Worldwide, we consider crime to be a young person’s game. The elderly get stereotyped as sweet, frail people. In our minds, the closest thing to criminal behavior by the elderly is a feeble cry of, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!” to passerbys. But the reality is that grandma and grandpa might just be “breaking bad” after all. With the elderly population increasing dramatically (by 2030, about 72.1 million Americans will be over the age of 65 – that’s over twice as many elderly people as there were in 2000), elderly crime is also on the rise. But why? What reasons do the elderly have to take a page out of Walter White’s book and completely turn their lives around?
Reasons for Elderly Offenses
First off, some elderly people might not be changing their ways as much as perpetuating lifelong behavior. A recent push to release “harmless” elderly prisoners from jail can account for some criminal behavior among the elderly. While many elderly criminals released from jail give up their criminal behavior, repeat offenses do occur. This could account for at least part of the rise in criminal behavior among the elderly.
But other factors contribute to people becoming first time offenders in their 50s, 60s, and 70s. The fact is that people are living longer lives, but they don’t always have the finances to support themselves. Social Security and pensions take care of most people’s needs, but with no income from a job, it can be hard to make ends meet. This could account for petty crimes such as shoplifting among the older population.
Furthermore, with no jobs to allow the elderly to contribute to society, some older people feel disconnected from society. This could lead to animosity toward others, depression, and antisocial behavior, which are all conditions that can lead to crime. In Japan, crime by the elderly gets attributed in part to the changing social conditions. Once highly revered in Japanese culture, the elderly now alone or in nursing homes, as opposed to getting cared for by their children. This further isolates the elderly from society and can cause animosity.
While making broad generalizations about elderly crime can be difficult, it does appear that changing social and financial conditions have attributed to the propensity for the elderly to commit crimes. With the increase of the older population booming, this problem will not go away on its own. Policies should occur to reduce elderly crime as soon as possible. For help with your case, you should contact a lawyer.