My dad always said that figures lie and liars figure. To salute that truism, let’s look at statistics to illustrate to profound impact that mandatory minimums and the sentencing guidelines have had on the federal prison population since the “war on drugs” commenced. One immutable fact is that the federal prison population has grown precipitously over the past thirty years:
(1) 1940 to 1980: the population remained stable at about 24,000 prisoners;
(2) 1980-1989: it more than doubled to about 58,000 prisoners;
(3) 1990-1999: it more than doubled again to about 134,000 prisoners;
(4) 2000-2010: it increased by another 45 percent to about 210,000 prisoners; and
(5) 2013: there are more than 219,000 federal prisoners (nearly 40 percent above rated capacity).
Not surprisingly, spending on federal prisons has correspondingly skyrocketed:
(1) From 1998 to 2012, the BOP’s budget increased from $3.1 to $6.6 billion–from 15 to 24 percent of the DOJ’s budget;
(2) The BOP’s 2013 budget request totaled $6.9 billion, an increase of $278 million over its FY 2012 budget; and
(3) Much to the dismay of the DOJ, the BOP is now consuming 25 percent of its budget.