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February 14, 2009

Capturing the essence of the USSC's report on prison alternatives

As noted here, last week the US Sentencing Commission issued a new report providing an in-depth analysis of alternative sentences for federal offenders. The essence of that report is effectively discussed in this recent article by Marcia Coyle in The National Law Journal, which is headlined "New Report Shows Sharp Rise in Prison Time for Federal Offenders."  Here are excerpts from the article: 

The rate at which federal offenders are being sentenced to prison time has increased by 10 percentage points in the past 10 years — from 75.4 percent to 85.3 percent since fiscal year 1997 — while the use of alternative sentences, such as probation and probation with confinement, has decreased over the same period.

White, older citizens convicted of fraud, larceny or other white-collar crimes have a higher likelihood than other offenders of getting an alternative sentence, but they still are sentenced primarily to prison time, according to a new report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission....

The decline in the use of alternative sentences, according to the commission report, is largely due to noncitizen offenders who must be confined while awaiting deportation. In fiscal year 2007, more than one-third (37.4 percent) of offenders were noncitizens, the overwhelming majority of whom were illegal aliens. "The citizen/noncitizen issue is no small issue in terms of sentencing outcome," said Ryan King of the Sentencing Project. "If the offender is here illegally, the court is not going to release him."

February 14, 2009 at 08:07 AM | Permalink

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