Secrecy News - "Since the early 1980s, there has been a historically unprecedented increase in the federal prison population," a new report from the Congressional Research Service observes.
"The number of inmates under the Bureau of Prisons' jurisdiction has increased from approximately 25,000 in FY1980 to nearly 219,000 in FY2012. Since FY1980, the federal prison population has increased, on average, by approximately 6,100 inmates each year. Data show that a growing proportion of inmates are being incarcerated for immigration- and weapons-related offenses, but the largest portion of newly admitted inmates are being incarcerated for drug offenses."
"Changes in federal sentencing and correctional policy since the early 1980s have contributed to the rapid growth in the federal prison population," CRS explained. "These changes include increasing the number of federal offenses subject to mandatory minimum sentences; changes to the federal criminal code that have made more crimes federal offenses; and eliminating parole."
A number of secondary problems are attributable to the rapid growth in incarceration, CRS said, including rising financial costs, overcrowding, and deteriorating prison infrastructure.