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In this Wednesday, April 9, 2008 file photo, Debbie Coluter, a certified nursing assistant, holds the hand of an elderly inmate with Alzheimer's disease, as she helps him to his cell at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, Calif.

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Prison dilemma: surging numbers of older inmates

In corrections systems nationwide, officials are grappling with decisions about geriatric units, hospices and medical parole as elderly inmates — with their high rates of illness and infirmity — make up an ever increasing share of the prison population.

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