Several dozen criminal-justice organizations, led by the Washington, D.C.-based Sentencing Project, have asked congressional leaders to enact a comprehensive plan to reduce the federal prison population. A number of states have already reduced corrections populations with no threat to public safety and the federal prison system should do the same. the groups argued. The Sentencing Project said that several states, including Kansas, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York had experienced significant declines in their prison populations, ranging from 5 percent to 20 percent.
The reductions were the result of several changes, including the limiting of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, diverting defendants with low-level convictions from incarceration, enhancing release programs, and reducing parole revocations. The federal prison system needs to make the same progress. Its population has increased at more than double the rate of state prisons since 2000, contributing to an overcrowded system that is dangerous for staff and prisoners, the groups said.