« "Who Benefits When A Private Prison Comes To Town?" | Main | Add Washington to states with serious marijuana legalization efforts afoot »

November 6, 2011

Reduced crack sentences help reduce of federal prison population for first time in long time

A helpful reader alerted me to the fact that, according to official US Bureau of Prisons data, the federal prison population dropped recently for the first time in a very long time.  Based on various year-end report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and more recent Weekly Population Reports from BOP, here is an accounting of total federal prison populations in past and recent times:

Year end 1992: 80,259

Year end 1996: 105,544

Year end 2000: 140,064

Year end 2004 180,328

Year end 2007: 197,285

Feb. 2009: 201,280

May 2009: 203,692

June 2010: 211,438

July 28, 2011: 217,444

Oct. 20, 2011: 217,908

Nov. 3, 2011: 217,660

Lots for different factors play a role in the total federal prison population head-count, but I have to assume that the earlier release of some crack offenders based on the new guideline played a big role in this (historic?) federal prison population decline.  It will be interesting to see if what has previously always been going up might continue to move down.  I somewhat doubt it, but time will tell.

November 6, 2011 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451574769e20162fc2df295970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Reduced crack sentences help reduce of federal prison population for first time in long time:

Comments

Just one question:

Has the massive decrease in the crime rate over the last generation -- a decrease that has saved tens of thousands of people from becoming crime victims -- come about with decreases in the prison population, or increases?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 6, 2011 10:50:56 AM

Someone claimed that crime rates stayed low despite a big drop in prison populations. At the Federal level there has been no drop in prison population. Prison populations at that level tripled, and the crime rate droped by two thirds. That is a gret time coincidence. The rates of imprisonment stayed high, the crime rate stayed low.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 6, 2011 2:28:10 PM

Bill, show me the data that tens of thousands of people have been spared by the Feds given the ridiculous sentences they do.. Please show your sources Bill, can't wait...

Posted by: Josh2 | Nov 6, 2011 9:13:45 PM

Josh2 --

http://www.crimeandconsequences.com/crimblog/2011/10/the-million-crime-march-or-how.html

For the source of the numbers stated therein: http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm

As you will see in the unlikely event you're not too lazy to look, over the last 20 years, as "incarceration nation" took hold, the violent crime rate has decreased 47%, and the murder rate by more than 50%. The number of violent crimes per year decreased by more than 665,000 even though the population increased. The number of murders per year decreased by nearly 10,000, again even though the population increased.

You'll be unable to dispute the figures, so you'll need another dodge. On the other hand, maybe you won't. There's not a wisp of evidence you give a good God damn about crime victims anyway.

Still, maybe you do. Please show your compassion for victims, Josh2, can't wait...

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 6, 2011 11:07:31 PM

Doug - lot of N.C. releases due to a change in the way federal courts consider the N.C. guidelines-like structured sentencing system. A lot of predicate felonies "disappeared" because the focus is now on whether that particular defendant (rather than one with a worse criminal history or one facing an aggravated sentence) could have been sentenced to more than a year.

Posted by: Gray Proctor | Nov 7, 2011 7:41:50 AM

Josh2 --

You asked, snidely as ever, for my sources and statistics. I gave them to you within two hours of your request. They show that imprisonment has contributed mightily to the staggering drop in crime, a drop that has saved tens of thousands (actually, hundreds of thousands) of ordinary citizens from becoming crime victims.

Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2011 12:27:31 PM

Josh2 --

"Please show your sources Bill, can't wait..."

Seems like you could wait, now doesn't it? When my sources blew up your argument, instead of admitting it, or even attempting an answer, you just go into silent mode and run off. I'll remember that the next time you ask me a question.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 7, 2011 11:54:30 PM

Josh2,

I am relatively new to this blog, but I think this is where you are supposed to blather on and on with a copout about "having a 'life' away from the computer and it is unreasonable to expect you to respond over the course of just a couple of days."

Grits or another of your ilk should already have one of these lines pre-made for you to use. Just add water and bingo!

Posted by: TarlsQtr | Nov 8, 2011 10:19:37 AM

TarlsQtr --

They see what they want to see. The rest of the time, it's exactly what you say. Josh2 in particular, after demanding an answer and saying he "can wait" to get it, simply walks away when he's given what he asked for.

This is mostly a comment (in particular, a tacit concession) on the merits, but, in addition is a reflection of their manners. They don't have the basic courtesy to say, "Thanks for getting me the sources."

Still, since we see that they approve branding opposing commenters as child molestors -- so that, as Grits said, those commenters will be encouraged to "shut up," -- I'd have to be a fool to think that anything resembling adult manners will show up with this crowd.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 8, 2011 11:34:42 AM

The data used by Otis to justify America's high incarceration rate---and particularly federal mandatory penalties---are glib and unconvincing. None of the analyses he cites show that the growth in federal incarceration has made a significant contribution to the crime rate drop. Starting in the early 90s, the crime rate also dropped in Canada, even as their incarceration rate fell. It has continued to drop in the U.S. in the past two years, as our incarceration rate has begun to fall. The key to using incarceration to control crime is to focus on the most dangerous offenders. For this, the politicized policies advocated by Otis are particularly ineffective.

Posted by: Student | Nov 8, 2011 4:31:40 PM

I know the numbers change weekly, but I haven't found where I can see each week and the numbers posted.
I have kept a small record of some as follows
7/2/2010 211,637
7/18/2010 211,146
8/3/2010 211,223
9/2/2010 210,554
9/5/2010 210,095
10/14/2010 210,142
10/28/2010 210,305
3/10/2011 210,380
Where can you get the full detail of the weekly postings of the population? BOP website only posts the current week numbers.


Posted by: JS | Nov 8, 2011 4:38:55 PM

Student --

1. I did not purport to use only federal figures, since federal criminal jurisdiction is limited and tends not to include street crime. The "federal" part is your concoction, designed to avoid the much more broadly based and (thus) revealing figures for both federal and state jurisdiction.

2. When Canada has the same history, culture, demographics and legal traditions as the United States, you can use it as a comparison. Until then, you're blowing smoke.

3. I served 18 years as a federal prosecutor while you sat on your child's backside letting other people pay your bills and, now, criticizing imprisonment, one of the things that helps keep you safe while you look down your nose.

Have the guts to sign your correct first and last name, as I do, or the earned modesty to take a hike.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 8, 2011 5:44:08 PM

bill, your such a windbag why don't you take some of your own advice.

Posted by: ; | Nov 8, 2011 8:07:34 PM

; --

"bill, your such a windbag why don't you take some of your own advice."

I do. I sign my real name to every post. Where's yours?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 8, 2011 8:45:40 PM

Well well, I certainly see that you've been at it in my absence haven't you Bill.

You are not a federal prosecutor and I'm not a defendant.. Therefore I'm not your whipping post bill.. Nor would I respond to your predicatable Pre-Booker guideline chip that was installed in your head 18 yrs ago.. .

You've pulled some info out for this post and forced your root thoughts on everyone...and if one isn't around to respond, you go nutso...

I don't see you evolving, only more bark and no bite..

Posted by: Josh2 | Nov 9, 2011 10:07:42 AM

Josh2 --

"You are not a federal prosecutor and I am not a defendant."

That is quite correct. You are a poster who demanded that I produce figures. I did. You also demanded that I produce the source. I did. You said you couldn't wait. But that was not true. When the figures and the sources refuted your argument, you just took off for three days, then put up a snide and utterly non-responsive "reply."

"Nor would I respond to your predicatable Pre-Booker guideline chip that was installed in your head 18 yrs ago.. ."

I'd ask you to tell me what on earth you're talking about, but it would be useless.

"You've pulled some info out for this post..."

Yes, I did, at your specific request.

"...and forced your root thoughts on everyone."

What nonsense. Name one person upon whom I have "forced" my thoughts. You come here voluntarily, right?

"I don't see you evolving, only more bark and no bite.."

What you don't see, and what no one sees, is even the wisp of a substative response to the facts. But I'll give you another chance, being a believer in redemption.

Over the last 20 years, as "incarceration nation" took hold, the violent crime rate has decreased 47%, and the murder rate by more than 50%. The number of violent crimes per year decreased by more than 665,000 even though the population increased. The number of murders per year decreased by nearly 10,000, again even though the population increased.

Do you dispute any of that? If so, on what basis? If you don't dispute it, are you finally willing to concede that imprisonment is a valuable tool in reducing the number of crimes and crime victims?

Posted by: Bill Otis | Nov 9, 2011 1:24:18 PM

Of coarse prison is a valuable tool..It does save victims and some are better off in the slamer... A bed and 3 meals a day and if they act up its dealt with right away...

Face it, some people just arenot meant to be out in the world..

Where we part ways is in the Federal Guidelines, MM, acquited conduct, uncharged
relevant conduct and most drug cases.. Vast majority of MM are for drugs and were enacted in election yrs...So we know why, get elected, terrible shame.

Yes its up to the individual to take responsibility for their actions, 100%
But its like us when we eat a piece of pie or sluff off doing small items
when we shouldn't...Only these people get hooked on the junk....Terrible shame
Bill, that drugs exist...But, the feds don't know what to do, so they've
conjured up a system that is additive in nature with history categories and
levels for instant offense and then jack it up with items from their history
that triggers, ehancements. The system is geared to give whichever is the maximum when they translate the drug qtys....Shame shame..

Prison does more to help drug offenders than anything else...But after they
get clean and spend several seasons watching whatever, they need to be trained
have the opportunity for tech classes and some can cut it in College.

Supervise Release sucks, lets say you were given 4 yrs. AFter 3 yrs 11 months and 5 days, you have a public intox, (just an example) they go away for the 4 yrs.. Credit is not given for the time they did... Thaat is terrible.

Federal prisons are full of revoked inmates, they are doing the full hitch on their supervised release.

Anyway, Bill we differ widely on this and may never close the gap...

I know you don't care what the cost is, but prisons are expensive to build and maintain and staff....America can no longer afford the ego that congress has.

But prison alone has not accounted for all of the drop in crime...Another big area we disagree on...We are a nation compelled to lockup too many people.

I feel state systems mess up just terrible on drugs.. When someone goes off
the reservation, ( lets use Lindsey Lohan as an example ) they let them go
with hardly anything.. Mean while their hisoty is growing, then if little
Miss Lohan gets forwarded up to the Feds, after 5 or 6 messups.. Shes
in deep do do....Critical error in most state schemes...

So, I think I've answered your questions and then some...


Posted by: Josh2 | Nov 9, 2011 10:17:50 PM

"When Canada has the same history, culture, demographics and legal traditions as the United States, you can use it as a comparison."

It's not a "comparison." It's a control.

Posted by: Michael Drake | Nov 10, 2011 12:56:37 PM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB