Here's How Much It Costs the Feds to Lock Up 219,000 People
This week, Attorney General Eric Holder is set to announce a batch of reforms aimed at thinning out our overcrowded federal prisons by easing up on drug prosecutions. Among other steps, the Washington Post reports that "low-level, nonviolent drug offenders with no ties to gangs or large-scale drug organizations will no longer be charged with offenses that impose severe mandatory sentences." So, in other words, common sense appears to be on the verge of winning a rare victory in the drug war. Good times.
Better yet, we stand to save a few dollars as a result. Over the last three decades, the federal prison population has grown by almost 800 percent, so that it now contains some 219,000 inmates, about half of whom are there for drug crime. And, as our penitentiaries have gotten fuller, running them has become more expensive.