Federal Folly

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Justice Policy Institute

JPI argues that the spending in the 2012 Justice Department appropriations will help fuel unnecessary incarceration brought on by a lack of other options for sentencing.

JPI’s brief includes a chart showing an increase in spending between 2010 and 2012 on federal prisons (up 8 percent) and detention (up 10 percent), during which time funds for juvenile justice and prisoner reentry each fell by 37 percent.

The need for more funding for the Bureau of Prisons stems from the fact that the federal prison population “has grown explosively over the last 20 years,” according to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved a spending bill for the Justice Department that passed the Senate in September and was conferenced with House appropriations last week.

The BOP population was 25,000 in 1980, reached about 188,000 in 2005, and as of this fall was 218,000.

“Increasing funding for more prison beds has been shown to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you build it, they will come,” said the JPI report.

Meanwhile, said the report, reducing federal funds for juvenile justice activities “may result in an increase” in the number of juveniles who are “locked up in juvenile detention and correctional facilities across the country.”

Click here to read the JPI brief.