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And the immense cost of confining so many people is draining vital resources from from other public safety endeavors, including investigations and prosecutions. Politicians across the political spectrum, from Sens.
Now, a report from the Urban Institute, a Washington-based think tank for social and economic policy research, examines a host of specific suggestions, including several proposals awaiting a vote in Congress. The study, released this week, concludes that the federal government could save billions and significantly ease the overcrowding crisis by adopting strategies that include cutting fixed sentences for drug offenses in half, retroactively applying a law that lessens the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences, and offering early-release credits to inmates who participate in programs designed to keep them from committing new crimes after they're released.
At the Senate hearing where the prisons chief spoke, Sen.
Below are 10 key proposals examined by the Urban Institute and how they may help save money and empty prison beds over the next decade. Send fewer people to prison for drug crimes. There areinmates in the federal prisons system -- compared with 25, in About half are there for drug offenses.
In a major speech in August, U. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department would try to ensure that fewer people spend years behind bars for non-violent drug crimes, in part by directing prosecutors to bring fewer drug cases to federal court. Allow drug offenders to serve shorter sentences.
Why are so many people locked up for drug crimes? The answer has a lot to do with federal mandatory-minimum sentencing laws. Under one law, judges are required to sentence drug offenders to prison terms ranging from 5 years to 20 years, depending on the type and quantity of the drug.
Before this law, one-quarter of all federal drug offenders were fined or sentenced to probation, the study notes. Today, 95 percent end up behind bars.
A recent bill introduced by Sens. Give judges greater discretion over sentencing. A judge can deviate from this protocol, but only if the defendant has been convicted of a nonviolent drug crime and has a very clean criminal record.
Give judges even greater discretion.
Require offenders instead to serve 70 percent of their sentences. A sentencing law passed in the s dictated that that people caught dealing or posessing crack would go to prison for much longer than people caught with powder cocaine.
Many criminal justice advocates have argued that this law essentially targeted blacks, since crack is cheaper than powder cocaine and more popular among low-income people.
The Fair Sentencing Act of decreased the disparity between crack and powder cocaine punishments for anyone sentenced after the law was passed. By applying this law retroactively, to people now serving crack-related prison time, the government would extend its benefits to people who were sentenced before the law was adopted.
Allow more prisoners to reduce their sentences through credit for good behavior. Many federal prisoners are eligible to get months or years chopped off of their sentences, but only if they participate in a particular drug treatment program.
Expand the number of rehabilitation programs that offer credits toward early release for those who participate. Give prisoners a full year off their sentences for participation in a drug rehabilitation program. But thanks to overcrowding, the line to get into the program is so long that many offenders have less than a year of their sentences left by the time they graduate.
Expand the program so that every graduate receives a full year off his or her sentence. Release more elderly prisoners from Bureau of Prisons custody.
After the age of 55, people who are released from prison are highly unlikely to commit new crimes, according to many studies. Yet 17, people in federal prisons are older than 55, according to the report.
Release some of them before their sentences are up. The report assumed that fewer than half would be promising candidates. Send more foreign inmates back to their home countries.
Do you have information you want to share with HuffPost?New York and New Jersey led the nation by reducing their prison populations by 26% between and , while the nationwide state prison population increased by 10%.
California downsized its prison population by 23% between and Reducing the incarcerated population in both the juvenile- and adult-justice systems has been an what programs work and for whom. 3 , and included policy changes that addressed the prison population at the front end and at the back end.
Findings indicate that “front-end” processes and result of reducing the size of the prison population will be reinvested in substance abuse treatment and other programs methods that classify the proportion of the current prison.
A recent study () by the U.S. Department of Justice 5 found that more than half of all prison and jail inmates have a mental health problem compared with 11 percent of the general population, yet only one in three prison inmates and one in six jail inmates receive any form of mental health treatment.
prison population growth. prisons are generally over crowded front end brick and mortar back end. broken windows approach model is based upon: working in the community Corrections - Exam 2. 58 terms. Community Corrections 2.
40 terms. CRLS Chapter 4. OTHER SETS BY THIS CREATOR. The prison expansion model retains few programs and treats but a small percentage of the offender population -- a significant disadvantage. Although service capacity is still insufficient, an advantage of the community corrections model is a greater percentage of the offender population receives the necessary treatment.