Keeping up with one of his campaign promises, the Trump administration is cracking down on illegal immigrants and drug offenders. However, as a result, the federal prison population is expected to grow next year by 4,171 to a total of 191,493.
The Trump administration released its broader spending plan, which revealed an estimated growth of federal prison population by 2 percent in fiscal year 2018. The estimate was tucked into in a Justice Department budget proposal, which was posted online by the administration.
Although the costs of the prison growth were not disclosed, it is expected to benefit private prison companies. This is because private prisons have more beds available than federal prisons. Two of the biggest private prison companies, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, have roughly doubled their share prices since the U.S. election.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, about 19 percent of federal inmates are in private prisons or re-entry centers and the number is expected to rise as federal prisons are already running 14 percent above their official capacity.
On the contrary, former President Barrack Obama made amendments and constantly worked toward a smaller prison population. According to PEW Research Center, the number of sentenced prisoners in federal custody fell by 5 percent (or 7,981 inmates) between the end of 2009 and 2015.
Recently, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also rolled back a Obama era memo that placed guidance meant to reduce and ultimately phase out the use of private prison. In a memo to the acting head of Bureau of Prisons, the attorney general wrote that Obama’s directive “changed long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.”
“Therefore, I direct the Bureau to return to its previous approach,” Sessions wrote.
Obama was the first president in decades to leave office with a smaller prison population than when he arrived. However, it looks like Trump is on a completely opposite path.