The federal prison system was established in 1891, but the Bureau of Prisons wasn’t established until 1930. They were established under the Department of Justice and charged with the “management and regulation of all federal penal and correctional institutions”. This responsibility covered the administration of the 11 federal prisons in operation at the time.
The BOP’s responsibility grew as the prison population grew. By the end of 1930, the agency operated 14 facilities for just over 13,000 inmates. By 1940, the Bureau had grown again to 24 facilities with 24,360 inmates.
The numbers didn’t fluctuate much between 1940-1980 when the population was 24,252. However, the number of BOP facilities went from 24 to 44 as they gradually moved from operating large facilities confining inmates of many security levels to operating smaller facilities that confined inmates with similar security needs.
The 1980’s brought federal law enforcement efforts and new legislation that changed sentencing in the justice system. Consequently, this brought in more inmates. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 established determinate sentencing, abolished parole and reduced good time. Additionally, several mandatory minimum sentencing provisions were enacted in 1986, 1988, and 1990.
From 1980-1989, the inmate population more than doubled from just over 24,000 to 58,000. During the 1990’s, the population more than doubled again and rose to 136,000 by the end of 1999, due to the efforts to combat illegal drugs and immigration. From 2000-present, the population has continued to grow and currently stands at 188,950.
Harris Federal Law Firm serves to educate federal employees on their benefits and resources. If you are a federal employee who is struggling with a disability that is preventing you from fully performing your job, you may qualify for Federal Disability Retirement. Contact our firm today to learn more.