The Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections issued numerous recommendations last week to reform the federal criminal justice system in a large report entitled “Transforming Prisons, Restoring Lives.”
A primary goal highlighted in the recommendations is focused on Federal Corrections sending fewer low-level drug offenders to federal prison and also sentencing offenders to far less incarceration, which would reverse two of the changes that have driven the federal prison population to grow by 700 percent since 1980.
The task force, however, also delved into the minutiae of how the prison system is operated, including how it evaluates the success of its programs, the recidivism rate, and how it uses its resources.
In their final report, members suggest that the prisons should actually devote more resources to addiction treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, classes, and faith programs, and incentivize participation by offering offenders a reduction in time from their sentences and a “second look” at their cases by a federal judge after they’ve served certain number of years.
Going forward, the report says, sentences should be individualized, policy should emphasize public safety, data should guide policies, and the costs should be more carefully considered. Most importantly, the report says, the lawmakers who receive the recommendations “must capitalize on this rare moment in time” of political will and public awareness to make effective change.