Urban Institute Recommends Front- and Back- End Changes to Reduce Federal Prison Growth
Date:  09-13-2013

BOP system, as it stands today, called “unsustainable”
In its new report “The Growth & Increasing Cost of the Federal Prison System: Drivers and Potential Solutions” the Urban Institute calls the federal prison system “unsustainable.”

Highlights from the report by Nancy La Vigne and Julie Samuels depict a system that is bleeding the Department of Justice budget and creating potentially dangerous conditions due to overcrowding. The report cites areas of concern:

  • Fiscal impact. Resources spent on the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) eclipse other budget priorities.

  • Overcrowding risks. Overcrowded facilities can jeopardize the safety of inmates and staff and limit opportunities for effective programming that can reduce recidivism.

  • Fairness/equity concerns. High levels of incarceration may have disproportionate impacts on certain subpopulations and communities.

  • Inefficient resource allocation. Current research and recent evidence-based policy changes implemented in states raise questions about the cost-effectiveness of existing federal sentencing and corrections policies.

    The report recommends front-end changes that include decreasing the length of sentences, particularly for low-level drug offenses, to contain a further explosion in the federal prison population. Back-end changes that can reduce sentences and save money are also suggested.

    “The Growth & Increasing Cost of the Federal Prison System: Drivers and Potential Solutions” provides a series of facts and charts that offer a detailed examination of the current state of the federal prison system and provides suggestions on how the federal government can take action to untangle itself from ineffective and costly policies.
  • Click here to read more.