The ballooning cost of the overcrowded federal prison system is an “increasingly critical threat” to the Justice Department’s ability to fulfill its mission, the department’s inspector general said in a report released Friday, which outlined the dual crisis the system faces.
“First, the costs of the federal prison system continue to escalate, consuming an ever-larger share of the Department’s budget with no relief in sight,” said Michael Horowitz, the DOJ inspector general. “In the current era of flat or declining budgets, the continued growth of the prison system budget poses a threat to the Department’s other critical programs – including those designed to protect national security, enforce criminal laws, and defend civil rights.”
“Second, federal prisons are facing a number of important safety and security issues, including, most significantly, that they have been overcrowded for years and the problem is only getting worse,” he continued. “Since 2006, Department officials have acknowledged the threat overcrowding poses to the safety and security of its prisons, yet the Department has not put in place a plan that can reasonably be expected to alleviate the problem.”
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