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January 21, 2021

Anyone bold enough to make predictions about the federal prison population — which is now at 151,646 according to BOP?

Regular readers know that I have been following federal prison population data quite closely during the COVID era and giving particular attention to the numbers the federal Bureau of Prisons updates weekly at this webpage.  This morning, which just happens to be the first full day of the new Biden Administration, BOP reports "Total Federal Inmates" at 151,646.  I am very curious to hear predictions as to what this number might be a year from now, or two years from now, or four years from now.

Here is some notable recent historical perspective.  Thanks to the wayback machine, we can see here that during Prez Trump's first week in office in late January 2017, BOP was reporting 189,212 total federal inmates.  Because I cannot find parallel data going back to the Obama inaugural months, I can just link to BOP historical data showing the federal prison population was reported at 201,668 at the end of 2008 and was at 218,687 at the end of 2012.  So, roughly speaking, the federal prison population increased by 17,000 persons during Prez Obama's first term (roughly 8%), and then it declined nearly 20,000 persons during Prez Obama's second term (roughly 9%).  And then the federal prison population decreased by nearly 38,000 persons(!) during Prez Trump's term (nearly 20%).

Gosh knows I would not have predicted that the federal prison population would have increased so significantly during Prez Obama's first term, and I also would not have predicted that this prison population would have decreased so much more significantly during Prez Trump's time in office.  Of course, the unpredictable COVID pandemic is a big part of this Trump era story, but BOP data shows that the federal prison population was declining at a pretty steady clip even in the pre-COVID years of the Trump era despite the fact Trump's Justice Department back in 2017, as noted here, was forecasting prison population increases. 

In short, hindsight shows that the direction of the federal prison population is quite hard to predict.  So, all the more reason for me to want to hear any and all new predictions now.  I am tempted to predict the federal prison population will be relatively steady during the Biden years, at least initially.  Though I would like to see Biden's Justice Department do a lot more to get a lot more vulnerable inmates out of federal prisons, I suspect it may be many months before we see any big DOJ policy changes and likely many more months before any big policy changes start to impact the federal prison population.  (I would love to see the Biden Administration have the gut to set a target of a federal prison population under 100,000, but I will save discussion of that idea for a future post.)

So, dear readers, any federal prison population predictions for the Biden era?

January 21, 2021 at 11:33 AM | Permalink


If Biden or Congress do not repeal Jeff Sessions 2016 memo to the Federal Government which told the Federal Justice System to resume charging for "Ghost dope"(Relevant conduct, Trafficking conspiracy, which charges and forces people to plead guilty of "said" drug amounts. The drug amounts come from someone they know, who was arrested.) which was abolished by Attorney General Eric Holder who instructed the Fed. Justice department to stop putting said, Drug amounts on peoples charges that came from thin air, because it would trigger extremely harsh sentences without actual evidence of "stated" drugs. These statements come from a unreliable, co-conspirator looking for a lighter sentence, making them embellish on amounts at investigators pressure.

This Country should only send people to prison on real evidence. Not just on people's "words" - So if this is not taken away again by the Biden administration and these people (there are 100's, especially in Texas) let go, you will see a huge influx, there is only a pause because of the elderly sick being sent home because of Covid. It will skyrocket. Will Biden fix this unconstitutional way of throwing people in Fed. prison for decades? He better or we will all know someone, if it's not you, in Federal Prison. I know for a fact that people have put drugs on people because of all kinds of reasons. They don't like them, or the case I know about, because the girl slept with her boyfriend. She is in Prison for 16 years because of it.

Posted by: Lisa Sciretta | Jan 22, 2021 12:28:38 AM

A Death Sentence…

On Jan 26th I am expected to agree to a Plea & be remanded into custody...

A Death Sentence… I am reaching out to address a situation I have found myself, once again, involved in. I am looking at an Active prison sentence of 13-20 months in the North Carolina Prison System! All told I have already done 12 1/2 years of incarceration. For the same thing...the definition of insanity??...

To start at the beginning would be to begin with the end…

I am 64 years old, a recovering addict (finally) It took a lot of hard, tear filled years behind those prison walls before I finally breached the addictive personality I had so carefully cultivated. The walls & barriers I had built, layer upon layer of lies, slathered with deceit, sealed with self sabotage came tumbling down around me.. I began to embrace this novel idea of sobriety.
Until I was incarcerated in North Carolina I was never offered any sort of Recovery programs. After spending 2 years in Swannanoa Correctional Institution, an Honor Grade Camp located in the Swannanoa Valley nestled amongst the Blueridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, 3 years of Drug offender probation, weekly drug screens, I graduated back into the free world.
Only to be caught up with a C.I. (Confidential Informant) For one weekend I fell back into the old grunge, I picked up some cocaine (.2 grams then .4 grams) Mere crumbs!! After being badgered by this man…many text messages & phone calls later I fell into the abyss of the Cleveland County Narcotics Squad...Charged with 2 counts of Sales & Delivery W/ISMD (Intent to sell, manufacture & Deliver) I am now looking at a DEATH SENTENCE…

In July of 2017 I attended the Phoenix drug program in Cleveland county. About midway through completion I was pulled from class by a counselor & told that my eyes were blood shot & pinned, my speech slurred that I was “Obviously High” & where did I want to be taken to? They drove me to my girlfriends house, leaving my personal vehicle on the Phoenix property. I was literaly dro[[ed off on the side of the road. Realizing something was wrong I proceeded to the Emergency Room of the Shelby NC Hospitol. After being seen by a NP I was informed that I had been suffering a stroke!!
I was given a certificate of complettion & not allowed back on the Phoenix property. Abandoned by the Court ordered Drug rehab I was, once again left up to my own twisted notion of life on lifes terms…

I am the sole caregiver of my 84 year old Mother. She suffers from a low immune disease called Thrombosis…Her Platelets are too low. I, myself suffer from several pre-covid-existing chronic medical issues, C.O.P.D., Osteoarthritis, Neuropathy, Fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, Cystoid Pancreatitis, along with several more. For me to enter the Festering Prison System at this time would absolutely be a Death Sentence...
I managed to get a continuance on my court date. In January I am expected to enter into a Plea agreement for 13-20 months, to be remanded into custody to begin sentence in Raleigh, NC Prison.
I'm not afraid of the time, this I could do standing on my head if it were not for this Pandemic & the fact that my Mom is so ill & in need of my caregiving. I need a Prison Diversion, an Alternative sentence.
I need an Advocate!! Please help me to reach out in the right direction!?
Would it be plausible to withdraw or terminate the court ordered Public Defender that is representing me & hire a private atty on Jan. 26th? Will this buy me a bit more time? I am prepared to do so...
Thank you,
Scheryl Reese


[email protected]

Posted by: Scheryl Kniebes Reese | Jan 22, 2021 5:23:14 AM

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