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June 4, 2020

"Total Federal Inmates," as reported by BOP, drops below 165,000

Another Thursday brings another new check on the federal Bureau of Prisons' updated "Total Federal Inmates" numbers.  In prior posts here and here, I highlighted that, according to BOP's reporting of the numbers, throughout the month of April the federal prison population was shrinking about 1,000 persons per week.  As we now move from May into June, the new numbers at this webpage are continuing to show weekly declines checking in around 1,100 on average: the BOP reported population dropped from 167,803 (as of May 14, 2020) to 166,647 (as of May 21, 2020) to 165,575 (as of May 28, 2020) to now a BOP reported total of 164,438.

I have repeatedly suggested that a reduced inflow of federal inmates — due to many sentencings and reportings to prisons being delayed — has likely been playing a big role in the significant reported population declines in recent months.  But, in this post noting a BOP press release about coming inmate transfers, I wondered if the historic COVID-era decline in the BOP numbers might be mostly an artifice of 6,800 federal prisoners not being officially "counted" while being held in local detention facilities during the COVID shutdown.  But this week shows reported  declines continuing at a steady pace, and so I am left to continue muttering about not "really" knowing just what is represented by the reported federal prison population or about how best to accurately gauge COVID's impact. 

A few of many prior related posts:

June 4, 2020 at 01:09 PM | Permalink


It is a remarkable decline. On the bop inmate population site it does say the this number includes inmates in private facilities and inmates in other facilities. Federal inmates have always been held in county and other facilities for various reasons and I always assumed that they were counted as part of the bop inmate statistics.

It could be because there are fewer employees in the DOJ. I did see that the # of dea agents and dea employees has declined slightly during the Trump administration. I don't know if the number of prosecutors hired by the doj has decreased, but wouldn't be surprised.

Posted by: beth curtis | Jun 4, 2020 6:18:13 PM

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