Hope for the Crumbling Federal Prison System?
Recently it has become apparent that the federal prison system is crumbling from overcrowding. In 1980, the federal prison population was approximately 25,000 people, but since then it has grown exponentially—over 800 percent. Currently, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) has custody of nearly 219,000 people. The agency’s facilities are operating at almost 40 percent over capacity. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. has more than 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. The average cost per inmate to the taxpayer is more than $28,000 per year. That is unsustainable, and incarcerating nonviolent offenders is a poor use of the taxpayer’s dollar.
Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act (“FSA”) in 2010 to equalize the guidelines for crack and powder cocaine. However, the act was not retroactive and only applied to sentencing imposed after the effective date of the FSA. This was the first effort to address some of the unfairness in sentencing, but the act did not do much to slow the growth of the federal prison population. (continue reading here)
November message: Criminal Discovery—A New Law and New Obligations for Defense Counsel
October message: A Landmark Study in Indigent Defense
June message: Discovery and the Legislature