Fed Inmates Up by 50% Since 2000, Will Grow Through 2020

Sep 13, 2012 2:38pm

The number of Americans locked up in federal prisons across the country has boomed over the past six years, growing nearly 10 percent since 2006, and is expected to keep growing through 2020.

The number of incarcerated federal felons has grown by about 50 percent since the year 2000, according to a new report released this week by the Government Accountability Office.

The rise in the population is attributed to a rise in national crime, tougher sentences for convicted felons, and a lack of parole in the federal system. With more criminals staying in the system for longer periods of time, available space in prisons has dried up, according to David Maurer, a GAO spokesman.

“The problem is going to be that these guys are going to be there for a long time and they’re not building any new prisons for anymore.  That’s why crowding continues to become a problem,” Maurer said.

More than 1.6 million individuals  — or 1 in 200 Americans — were incarcerated in America as of December 2010, the most recent time period for which there is data, according to the GAO report.  The federal system addressed in the report houses about 218,000 of the inmates. The rest are located in state prisons.

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