FEDERAL WORK

Between 1980 and 2013, the federal imprisonment rate increased 518 percent, from 11 inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents to 68. Costs followed a similar trend, rising 605 percent, from $900 million to $6.4 billion, in the same period.

To help the federal government adopt high return-on-investment public safety strategies in sentencing and corrections, the project is providing data analysis, research, policy options, and lessons from the states.

During my tenure as Speaker of the House in North Carolina, I worked across party lines to help enact the most significant sentencing and corrections reform effort undertaken in decades. Today, North Carolina is seeing the results of that effort, as we are responsibly lessening our investment in corrections and reinvesting those savings in community programs that reduce crime and build safer communities.U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R)
prison hall
prison hall
Fact Sheet

Federal Prison System Shows Dramatic Growth

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Fact Sheet

From 1980 to 2013, the number of offenders incarcerated in federal prisons increased from approximately 24,000 to more than 215,000, making the federal system the largest in the nation. Policy choices contributed significantly to this expansion as lawmakers added criminal laws to the books, lengthened sentences, and abolished parole.

PSPP_TimeServed_raw_km_RF
PSPP_TimeServed_raw_km_RF
Data Visualization

Imprisonment, Crime Rates Fell Over Five Years

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Data Visualization

The national imprisonment rate declined 1 percent while violent and property crime rates fell 1 percent and 5 percent, respectively, from 2013 to 2014, according to statistics released in September by the U.S. Department of Justice. From 2009 to 2014, the nation’s imprisonment rate fell 7 percent and the total crime rate declined 15 percent.

U.S. Capital
U.S. Capital
Article

Congress Hears From States on Improvements to Public Safety

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Article

Judicial, legislative, and executive leaders from three states came to Capitol Hill on June 17 to discuss their states’ recent sentencing and corrections reforms, which could prove instructive to the federal criminal justice system.

President Barack Obama visits a federal prison.
President Barack Obama visits a federal prison.
Article

State Criminal Justice Reforms Build the Case for Data-Driven Federal Legislation

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Article

July was the biggest month for prison reform in more than 20 years. 

Prison
Prison
Fact Sheet

Growth in Federal Prison System Exceeds States'

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Fact Sheet

Between 1980 and 2013, the federal imprisonment rate increased 518 percent while annual taxpayer spending on federal prisons rose 595 percent. Prison expenditures grew from 14 percent of the Justice Department’s total outlays to 23 percent, increasingly competing for resources with law enforcement and national security programs.

Courtroom interior
Courtroom interior
Issue Brief

Federal Drug Sentencing Laws Bring High Cost, Low Return

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Issue Brief

More than 95,000 federal prisoners are serving time for drug-related offenses—up from fewer than 5,000 in 1980.1 Changes in drug crime patterns and law enforcement practices played a role in this growth, but federal sentencing laws enacted during the 1980s and 1990s also have required more drug offenders to go to prison— and stay there much longer—than three decades ago.2 (See Figure 1.) These policies have contributed to ballooning costs: The federal prison system now consumes more than $6.7 billion a year, or roughly 1 in 4 dollars spent by the U.S. Justice Department.3