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December 12, 2005

The more things change, the more....

As obliquely referenced at the end of this post, the US Sentencing Commission has now updated its most recent post-Booker data report to include its (recently finalized) "new" data on federal sentencing (pre-Blakely) during fiscal year 2004.  (Recall that very early post-Booker reports could only make comparisons to FY2002 data, and then later post-Booker reports were able to add comparisons to FY2003 data.)  The addition of the FY2004 data to the USSC's post-Booker reporting provides important new data points when seeking to assess Booker's impact.

The new data points in the FY2004 data are fascinating.  I suspect (and fear) that many observers will fixate on the fact that the FY2004 data reveal a national average of "within range" guideline sentences at 72.2%, while the post-Booker national average of "within range" guideline sentences now stands at 61.7%.  But no one should obsess over these comparative numbers without also looking at the sentencing length numbers on the last page of the USSC's data report.  That last page details that average and median sentences are virtually unchanged from FY2004 to FY2005.  Such data suggest to me that, while the route to particular sentences might be somewhat different after Booker, the true bottom line seems to be largely unchanged.

December 12, 2005 at 05:52 PM | Permalink

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