Overcrowding in U.S. federal prisons is so severe that the problem could go on for years a report from the Urban Institute found recently, reported Reuters.
The Urban Institute, a research group with roots in President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society anti-poverty program of the 1960s, shows how difficult it would be to bring the prison population in line with capacity.
Even if Congress were to cut mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes by half, an idea with dubious political prospects, federal prisons would still be 20 percent above capacity in 10 years, the report said. They would be 55 percent above capacity if policies went unchanged, it said.
"As much as there are many good policy ideas out there, it's going to take several of them to even get to the point where prisons are not overcrowded," Nancy La Vigne, director of the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, told Reuters.
The report also details the potential budget savings from a menu of changes under discussion in Congress.
If lawmakers were to apply retroactively new prison terms that they approved in 2010 for crack cocaine-related crimes, they would cut prison spending by $229 million over 10 years and free up 22,000 "bed-years." One person released 12 months early frees up one bed-year.
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