State prison populations level as federal count skyrockets
Federal system should follow state example on imprisonment
Washington, DC (April 10, 2002) -- In response to the release of figures today by the Bureau of Justice Statistics showing that the federal prison population increased by 7,372 during the first six months of 2001, its largest six-month growth ever, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Corrections Committee Co-Chair Raag Singhal issued the following statement:
"Coupling the increase in the federal prison population with the smallest increase in state prison population in almost 30 years, it is clear that the states are far ahead in realizing that we must redirect our approach to criminal justice.
"Local authorities can much better handle particular issues of concern in criminal law than the federal government. For example, local jail systems are much more focused upon rehabilitative efforts such as work release programs, electronic monitoring, weekend reporting, and community-based residential drug facilities and restitution centers.
"Also, local state judges generally have more discretion in sentencing than federal judges and can treat our clients as individuals rather than simple guidelines computations.
"We are still faced with one of every eight African-American males in their twenties being incarcerated. This also relates to federal versus state policy on crack cocaine sentencing which unfairly impacts minorities and particularly African-Americans. Of course this eventually leads to minorities being disenfranchised.
"The period covered by these statistics is before September 11. With that in hindsight, ideally we will realize that a redirection of law enforcement resources would be advisable."
Singhal is a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. He can be reached at (954)527-0035.