Packed Prisons 'Costly Failure'
Report calls for shorter sentences, quicker paroles, aid on release
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2007 2:45 AM CST
An inmate is processed through the receiving and release center where medical conditions are addressed at San Quentin State Prison.   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – America's prisons, crammed with 2.2 million inmates, are an expensive failure, according to a report by a Washington criminal justice research group. The JFA Institute calls for shorter sentences and parole terms, alternative punishments and decriminalizing recreational drugs—steps that would cut the prison population in half and save $20 billion a year, reports Reuters.

"Our justice system practices exacerbate the crime problem, unnecessarily damage the lives of millions of people and waste tens of billions of dollars," the report concluded. The Justice Department dismissed the recommendations. "The US is experiencing a 30-year low in crime, in large part due to the tough enforcement actions we've taken," said a spokesman.