WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The number of prisoners in the United States has grown dramatically since the 1980s, marking an increase of nearly 800 percent, US Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates said in a written testimony to the US Senate Judiciary Committee.
"We have seen an explosion in the federal prison population since the 1980’s," Yates stated in the testimony on Monday. "While the country’s population has only grown by about a third, our federal prison population has grown by almost 800 percent."
Yates explained that the tremendous growth has occurred primarily because of the ever increasing prosecution of people that have bought, possessed, used or sold drugs.
"Today, nearly half of all federal inmates are in federal prison for drug-related offences," Yates said. "Over 2.7 million children in the United States have a parent behind bars."
Yates underscored the United States must reform incarceration regulations to better distinguish between what she termed serious and less threatening crimes.
At present, the US prison system houses 25 percent of the world’s prisoners while the country accounts for only 5 percent of the world’s population, according to the White House.
Earlier in October, a bipartisan group of nine US Senators introduced legislation to cut mandatory jail sentences for many non-violent crimes.