Shortly before adjourning for the August work period, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee held a hearing in which members began a review the United States’ justice system and heard testimony from witnesses about the problems facing the federal prison system. The hearing was billed as the first of many to take a look at these issues.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons, which oversees inmates in federal prisons, has seen tremendous population growth over the last few decades. The federal prison population has grown by nearly 800 percent, from nearly 25,000 inmates in 1980 to approximately 210,000 today. As a result, the Bureau of Prisons’ budget has grown at twice the rate of the Justice Department. With a $6.445 billion budget, the agency consumes a quarter of the Justice Department’s budget.

While several conservative states have implemented programs to reduce the chances of offenders going back to prison, the federal government has fallen far behind. Federal prisons act as little more than warehouses for prisons, offering little in the way of substantive rehabilitative programs. Unfortunately, many who leave federal prison go back to the behavior that landed them in there. As FreedomWorks will discuss in an upcoming publication, conservative states have found a way to disrupt this cycle of crime. As a result these reforms, which focused on rehabilitation as an alternative to incarceration, they have saved taxpayers money and made communities safer.

Justice reform has received a significant amount of attention on Capitol Hill. Several pieces of…

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