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WASHINGTON – A new, bipartisan task force aimed at reducing the federal criminal code is a positive step toward breaking our country's addiction to incarceration, said the American Civil Liberties Union today. The House Committee on the Judiciary Over-Criminalization Task Force of 2013, which is made up of five Republicans and five Democrats, will comb through the code and identify unnecessary and ineffective criminal statutes.
"Sending people to prison should be the option of last resort, not the first," said Jennifer Bellamy, ACLU legislative counsel. "Over the last couple of years, we've seen a bipartisan consensus emerge around the idea that we waste billions of dollars on a criminal justice system that just isn't working. This task force has an opportunity to protect the civil liberties of the many Americans who are locked up unnecessarily and with no benefit to public safety every day. We’re optimistic this will lead to real reform."
At a time of historically low rates of crime, the federal prison system is operating at almost 40 percent over capacity. A recent report by the Congressional Research Service found that the federal prison population has grown by almost 790 percent since 1980.