What facts are you checking? You are comparing apples to apple pies. Jelani Cobb might be partly mistaken in talking about number of arrests and prison population in the same sentence and leading us to believe that both went up as a consequence of the 1994 crime bill. However, the documentary itself focuses on the total prison population and incarceration rate, and that is the BJS data it cites. Citing and crowing about decreasing BJS arrest data to bolster your claim that a statement about prison population increase is wrong is just intentional mushy-brainedness on your part. Please check your facts before you “fact-check”.
The main effect of the 1994 bill was mandatory sentencing and vastly increased terms for those arrested (for example “three strikes you are out” led to life terms even if the three crimes you were convicted of were minor). Prison population is roughly the cumulative of the product of arrests and terms. So you don’t expect to see a step impact in prison population immediately after a change in arrest rates or passage of a bill imposing longer sentences, there is necessarily a lag, even without accounting for lagged implementation. Plus, don’t forget that at any given time there is a large population of “already incarcerated” who are not affected by changes in the sentencing laws (one would hope, but after all this is the US).
What do we actually see in the US incarceration data? In 1994, the incarceration rate was simply part of a steeply increasing trajectory. A much more detailed dynamic model of the prison population would have to be constructed, taking changes in arrest rates and different sentencing law implementation start dates into account, in order to see a change even in the time derivative of the incarceration rate or a drop in the number of prisoners released. What is true is that prison incarceration rates continued to climb steeply after 1994 in spite of decreasing property crimes for decades before. Even the lower arrest rates reported by the BJS might reflect their lack of access to local and county arrest data, the Crime Bill may have intentionally shifted some arrests into local opaque areas.
The incarceration rate peaked in 2007 or 2008, and has steadily declined since then (from the BJS site, August 1 2020)
Because of the time-lags, even that, much to the disappointment of liberals, may not be due to Joebama but due to Bush II and may reflect hidden or unaccounted “detention centers” run by DHS/ICE/County and other local “law-enforcement”.