A bipartisan task force released a report Tuesday that recommends the government reduce the number of federal inmates by 60,000 in the next decade. The report was researched by the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections, and found mandatory-minimum drug penalties to be the “the primary driver” that has pushed prisons to “overcrowding and unsustainable growth.”
That doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Mandatory minimums have attracted a lot of scrutiny lately, and reform seems to be one of the few issues Republicans and Democrats can agree on. What is surprising, is that it finally seems like something may be done about it.
The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world. And the federal prison system is the country’s largest jailer, with nearly 200,000 people behind bars. And despite spending $7.5 billion to keep people locked up, about 40 percent of released inmates are rearrested, or have their supervision revoked within three years, the report noted.
The task force spent 12 months interviewing inmates and reviewing data. It found that the largest contributor to prison overpopulation were the 1980s-era mandatory minimums for drug and weapon offenses, as well as limiting when convicts can apply for parole or earn time off their sentences. It also noted that increased enforcement of immigration crimes has played a significant role.