The New York Times, citing a Justice Department report to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, says the federal prison population is too high. The Justice Department said the growing federal prison population, now more than 218,000, and a budget of almost $6.2 billion are “incompatible with a balanced crime policy and are unsustainable.”
The Times says the Justice Department fails to address sentencing changes that should be made. Last fall, the Sentencing Commission issued mandatory minimum sentences are often “excessively severe,” especially for people convicted of drug-trafficking offenses, who make up more than 75 percent of those given such sentences. Mandatory minimums have contributed in the last 20 years to the near tripling of federal prisoners, with more than half the prisoners now in for drug crimes. The Justice Department report does not mention mandatory minimum sentences nor does it mention adjusting its own policies on drug cases so it would put away fewer offenders not considered dangerous.