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November 27, 2020

Thankful the federal prison population is at lowest level in two decades

4o1xpnI am always thankful to have a good reason to express thanks, and this holiday period seems like a fitting time to be thankful about the federal prison population declining to modern lows.  Of course, it is sad that a global pandemic in part accounts for recent declines, but the COVID era was an accerant that continued positive trends which began after the federal prison population hit historic highs in 2013.

In 2013, the federal prison population reach a peak of around 220,000 total prisoners.  As we close out 2020, the latest BOP numbers at this webpage report "Total Federal Inmates" at only 154,125.  A 30% decline in the federal prison poplation in less than a decade strikes me as something to be thankful for, and the last time the federal prison population was this low was way back in the year 2000.  (That said, any celebration of positive federal carceral trends should be tempered the fact that BOP still reports that more than 30,000 federal prisoners are over age 50, and that nearly 50% of persons in federal prison are servng time for drug offenses despite widespread acknowledgement of the many failings of the war on drugs.)

The latest federal prison population numbers represents a small population decline from the numbers noted in this post last month, which suggests that there may still be small continued COVID-era federal prison population declines.  As noted in this post last month, the US Sentencing Commission released some early COVID-era sentencing data showing that the number of federal sentences imposed between April and June 2020 dropped about 40% from the usual rate.  I suspect the pace of federal sentencings increased in the summer and fall, but the latest surge of COVID cases might yet again impact federal criminal case processing.  

A few of many prior related posts:

November 27, 2020 at 10:13 AM | Permalink


Appreciate the Conan reference. The Y2K with David Duchovny is classic—and currently viewable on YouTube.

Posted by: hardreaders | Nov 28, 2020 8:36:07 PM

Thanks, hardreaders. I spent waaaaay too long looking at Conan skits before getting this image finalized. But I am ultimately a Triumph the Dog fan most of all.

Posted by: Doug B. | Nov 29, 2020 8:15:31 PM

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