I wrote last week how justice reform is fiscally conservative, specifically looking at a Texas Public Policy Foundation study on incarceration vs. treatment. The potential savings are even more massive on a federal level where the Sentencing Reform Act of 2015 could whack hundreds of millions of dollars from the budget. Via Congressional Budget Office (emphasis mine):
H.R. 3713 would amend federal law to change the prison sentences associated with certain offenses. Based on information provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC), CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would reduce the cost of incarcerating offenders and would lead to a reduction in discretionary costs to DOJ of $338 million over the 2017-2021 period and $769 million over the 2017-2026 period, assuming future appropriation actions consistent with the projected reduction in prison population.
$769M is nothing to sneeze at, especially when the government debt is $19.5T and counting. If the government can save money by changing sentencing of non-violent offenders, then it should be studied and implemented. Those debt markers are going to be called in at some point, and when it happens the U.S. is going to have to pay up. The less the government spends, the more it can make sure the debt goes down.
Here’s another reason why justice reform needs to be enacted on a federal level: the Bureau of Prisons is getting almost $7B in cash whilst holding only 200K prisoners. These prisoners aren’t all hardened criminals or suspected terrorists, but Average Joes who violated laws they didn’t even know existed. It’s why Congressman James Sensenbrenner teamed up with Congressmen Louie Gohmert, Raul Labrador, and Bob Goodlatte (and Democrats) to introduce the Criminal Code Improvement Act of 2015, in hopes of simplifying the law.
Read full article here.