Between 1980 and 2013, the federal prison population exploded, rising from 24,640 to 219,298, largely because of the war on drugs, which accounts for half of federal prisoners. Yet the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys (NAAUSA) insists in a recent position paper that “our federal prison population is not exploding.” How so? The number of federal prisoners fell slightly between 2013 and 2014, from 219,298 to 214,149. According to NAAUSA, that 2.3 percent drop makes up for the 790 percent increase that preceded it. Since balance already has been restored to the criminal justice system, it says, there is no need for sentencing reform.


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