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How to Reduce the Size and Growth of the Federal Prison Population

Sponsored by The Urban Institute
Honorary Co-hosts: Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Frank Wolf, Senator Rob Portman, Congressman Bobby Scott

The federal prison population has risen dramatically over the past few decades, as more people are sentenced to prison and for longer terms. The result? Dangerously overcrowded facilities and increasing expenses to taxpayers. In a new report, Urban Institute researchers project the population and cost-saving impacts of various strategies designed to reduce the inmate population without compromising public safety. They find that the most effective approach is a combination of strategies, and that reducing mandatory minimums and drug sentences on the front-end will have the biggest impact of any single measure. Justice Policy Center Director Nancy La Vigne moderated a panel to discuss findings from the report and options for policymakers that will meaningfully reduce the current prison population and costs.



  • The Honorable Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Senator, Rhode Island
  • Nancy La Vigne, director, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute (moderator)
  • Julie Samuels, senior fellow, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Samuel Taxy, analyst, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Richard Jerome, manager, Public Safety Performance Project, Pew Charitable Trusts
  • The Honorable Bobby Scott, U.S. Representative, Virginia
Date & Time Thursday, November 7, 2013
Russell Senate Office Building, Room 188 Constitution Avenue and 1st Street, NE Washington, DC 20510
, DC , 20510
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  • Senior Fellow