High Federal inmate population “historically unprecedented”

A new study from Congress’s research arm has found that Federal inmate populations soared dramatically over the last thirty years.

“Since the early 1980s, there has been a historically unprecedented increase in the federal prison population. Some of the growth is attributable to changes in federal criminal justice policy during the previous three decades,” the study found.

The document, which can be read here in full, found that the population of inmates during those three decades alone grew from 25,000 to nearly 219,000 in 2012.

The study suggests that the fast-rising cost of housing so many inmates may prompt more policy discussion in Washington.  Here’s an excerpt:

Policymakers might also consider whether they want to revise some of the policy changes that have been made over the past three decades that have contributed to the steadily increasing number of offenders being incarcerated. For example, Congress could consider options such as (1) modifying mandatory minimum penalties, (2) expanding the use of Residential Reentry Centers, (3) placing more offenders on probation, (4) reinstating parole for federal inmates, (5) expanding the amount of good time credit an inmate can earn, and (6) repealing federal criminal statutes for some offenses.



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