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n2doc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:29 PM
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No Budget Cuts for Federal Prisons
By James Ridgeway and Jean Casella| Wed Apr. 13, 2011 1:53 PM PDT

In the midst of an epic budget battle, the White House and Republicans in Congress appear to agree on one point: Federal prisons need more money.

With more people and a higher percentage of the population locked up than any other country, the United States would seem more than ripe for cuts in both its incarceration rate and its prison spending. A number of states have initiated such measures, and a growing chorus of critics on the right and left are decrying the devastating costs--fiscal and otherwise--of mass incarceration. Yet the Obama Administrations combined budget requests for FY 2011 and FY 2012 call for a full 10 percent increase over 2010 levels in funding to the federal Bureau of Prisons, to more than $6.8 billion. The increase, says the BOP, is necessary to accommodate a still-growing federal inmate population. And the latest budget deal reached with Republican leadership indicates that this particular category of discretionary spending will emerge from the budget battles comparably unscathed.

There is ample precedent for an expansion of federal prisons under a Democratic administration. According to analyses by the Sentencing Project and the Pew Center on the States, the growth rate in the BOPs population has far outstripped that of the states (which itself has increased by than 700 percent in the past 40 years). Federal growth was most dramatic during the Clinton years, when a host of new offenses were federalized: Since 1995 alone, the number of federal inmates has more than doubled, to over 211,000. More than half of these prisoners are serving time on drug charges, and another 10 percent are held on immigration violations. In all, more than 72 percent are nonviolent offenders with no history of violence, and 34 percent are first-time nonviolent offenders.

Whats more, the federal government is now bucking a state trend toward decreasing inmate levels and closing prisons. The Pew Center found that in 2009, in the wake of the financial crisis, the overall state prison population fell for the first time in 38 years. States as tough on crime as Texas, Georgia, and Florida are now pushing reforms that range from lighter sentences to early release programsall under the leadership of Republican governors. In contrast, the BOP population continues to rise, with an increase of 11,000 projected this year, according to Attorney General Eric Holder.

No wonder, then, that federal prisons are overcrowded, and the government is still opening new ones.

(emphasis mine)
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sasha031 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:34 PM
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1. why am not surprised...
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FSogol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 12:44 PM
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2. Some thoughts: Most Federal Prisons are aging infrastructure that require a lot of work/maintenance
Secondly, the BOP is tighter than most Federal programs and I'm not sure there would be much waste.

Any notion of whether we have too many people incarcerated or whether we jail people for stupid offenses is a separate issue to the costs operating the Federal Prison system.
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Contrary1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 01:00 PM
Response to Original message
3. They will be needing all those prisons...
Edited on Thu Apr-14-11 01:03 PM by Contrary1
to lock up the lower or non-income people who are so desperate, that they'll turn to crime.

Certainly, the wealthy white-collar thieves won't ever see the inside of one.
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madrchsod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 01:42 PM
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4. the prison in northwestern illinois is going to be a federal prison
it was to hold the gitmo prisoners but that was shot down so now it`s going to be a federal prison.
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WatsonT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 02:03 PM
Response to Original message
5. Someday we'll look back on the war on drugs the way we look back on prohibtion
so many lives lost, so much money and productivity wasted.

And for what? No one outside of the government and the gangs benefited.
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eppur_se_muova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 07:36 PM
Response to Original message
6. Finally, Republicans are creating some jobs!
Sub-minimum wage prison labor jobs, but hey, read the fine print.
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Terra Alta Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 07:45 PM
Response to Original message
7. I have a friend who is in the middle of a 34 year sentence
due to the BS "War on Drugs". He is a nonviolent, first time offender whose life has been ruined, and for what? Bring him home, and the hundreds of thousands of others locked up for nonviolent drug crimes. That would go a long way toward reducing our deficit.
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