As some states close prisons and divert more offenders to probation and treatment programs, the federal government is proposing to increase detention operations dramatically, says USA Today. The Obama administration’s 2011 budget proposal calls for a $527.5 million infusion for the federal Bureau of Prisons and judicial security. The boost would bring the U.S. prison budget to $6.8 billion.
Nearly half of new funding is proposed to accommodate the administration’s plan to close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and move some of the terror suspects to an Illinois prison. The Justice Department projects that federal prisons, which now hold 213,000 offenders, will hold 7,000 more by 2011. Justice would hire 652 more prison guards and fill 1,200 vacant detention positions, far more than the combined 448 new agents planned for the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and U.S. Marshals Service. Assistant Attorney General Lee Lofthus says the increased prison system funding does not reflect a de-emphasis of national security, only that the Bureau of Prisons “needs the bed space.”