Is it just me or does anyone else find it odd that conservatives are leading the movement towards less use of incarceration in our criminal justice system?
Among the many articles on the effects of sequestration on the Bureau of Prisons, see "Justice Department Can Be Smarter About Sequester," 2/26/13, thehill blog; "Sequester Impact on Federal Prisons," 2/23/13, Forbes; "Sequester to Affect Prisons, National Guard," 2/27/13, NCNewsOnline, Prof. Berman's Sentencing Law & Policy Blog quotes a piece in yesterday's Business Insider about the dire consequences sequester will bring to the Bureau of Prisons:
Sequestration will hit each and every aspect of the U.S. government, but for the Bureau of Prisons, the impact could be horrifying. According to the Attorney General's office, the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) will have to handle a rising number of inmates with a major budget reduction, a cut of $338 million.
And while other agencies can find ways to do more with less — for example, by reducing procurement, enacting hiring freezes or cutting services — BOP has to maintain constant security at federal prisons around the country with even less money. The solutions will not be pretty.
In an email to Business Insider, a spokesperson from the Department of Justice said that they are "acutely concerned about staff and inmate safety should sequestration occur." The Department indicated that it may at times maintain a minimum level of staff for security purposes, and that lock-downs may be required.
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Complicating all of this is the fact that the federal prison system is already severely overcapacity. According to the 2012 Justice Department annual report, the system is 38 percent overcapacity, a problem that the Department has identified as a major weakness. But efforts to find a solution will be thwarted by the sequester.
In 2013, the BOP was slated to activate 5 new prisons throughout the system, alleviating the crunch with 8,100 new beds. In addition to cuts in guards, those projects will have to be delayed, exacerbating the overcrowding problem further. On top of these issues, Holder reported that the BOP will be forced to curtail or cancel some of the crucial rehabilitation programs that bring long term savings to the criminal justice system....
Jesselyn McCurdy, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who specializes in civil liberties in the criminal justice system, is very concerned about the impact that the cuts will have on inmates. "Sequestration could result in disaster for people in federal prisons who already live in dangerously overcrowded conditions," McCurdy said.