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August 30, 2006

A new (and new type of) data report from the USSC

I remain in the dark about exactly what the US Sentencing Commission did at its meeting today (background here),  although I am pleased to see a helpful reader provided this not-so-encouraging report.  In any event, the USSC deserves some good tidings for releasing a new back of post-Booker data on its Booker webpage.

The new data, available here, is now labeled a "Quarterly Sentencing Update," and it is described as an "extensive set of tables and charts presenting cumulative quarterly data on cases sentenced in fiscal year 2006."   When time permits, I hope to comment on what we might learn from this latest data set.

UPDATE: There are a lot of charts and graphs in the new report, but nothing jumps out as startlingly noteworthy.

August 30, 2006 at 06:38 PM | Permalink


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I am a masters student in the U.K and I want to know how many States in the U.S have abolished parole for serious offenders. I am writing a dissertation on pedophiles and I need accurate information.

Thank You.


Posted by: Omosede | Aug 31, 2006 2:31:13 AM

As usual, your blog is irresponsible when it comes to the work of the USSC. By highlighting an admittedly uninformed comment, you have given it stature that it does not warrant. You don't even give background information as to what the Commission raised penalties for, it's just accepted blanketly that whatever the increase was for, Congress needed cover(?)! You are smart enough to know that Congress NEVER needs cover to raise sentences! Congress proudly raises sentences (sometimes directly, sometimes through directives to the Commission), but they never need cover. Instead of reporting from your "Ivory Tower," why don't you actually attend a Commission meeting? Why don't you actually attend a Congressional Hearing? Its easy to preach from an uninformed pulpit!

Posted by: Kelly | Aug 31, 2006 7:30:51 AM

Kelly, I do not understand your criticism fully. If the USSC webcast its meetings, I would watch, and I have attended (and testified) at prior public hearings. Unfortunately, not everyone can be in DC for every meeting, and part of my point is that the USSC does not make it easy for folks around the nation (who are greatly affected by its work) to know what's going on.

Also, I have watched (and linked to) plenty of congressional hearings. Indeed, I have even done live-blogging of major Blakely and Booker hearings. So, before you comment harshly about others' "admittedly uninformed" comments, I hope you will try to gather a little more information yourself.

Posted by: Doug B. | Aug 31, 2006 10:35:23 AM

The point was, in your blog, you direct the reader to "this not so encouraging report" which talks about how the Commission has given Congress "cover. Congress can now say we didn't enhance these sentences, the USSC did." This is the irresponsible part. You should be informed enough to know and to point out, the USSC does not give Congress "cover" to raise sentences, as I pointed out above. It is irresponsible to talk about a mandate from Congress that you (or your reader/on-site reporter) never bothered to find out the details of. What guideline was involved? Were sentences truly raised? That is the danger of blogs, facts be damned, let's just put out our opinion, be they true or not. By pointing your readers to an irresponsible and uninformed comment, you endorse it, and thus the "Ivory Tower" comment.

Posted by: Kelly | Aug 31, 2006 10:57:47 AM

I do not quite understand what's so "irresponsible" about a commentor giving his impression of what he thought of the USSC meeting. If you or others had a different view, about the meeting, you all can weigh in (and won't, I hope, be subject to name-calling attacks). Indeed, if you are so concerned about the report I linked to, you could supply whatever information you think is missing.

More importantly, the broader point I am trying to make (and that the commentor made as well), was that the USSC has made all this opaque by providing precious little information about what it is doing. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives can be impacted by any guidelines change, and anyone outside of DC (and even most inside DC) are left in the dark. That is what strikes me as irresponsible. The commentors is simply trying his best to bring light to a development that the USSC seems to be trying to keep dark.

Before you start accusing helpful commentors about reports you deem "irresponsible," I hope you might first try to explain to me why you think the work of the USSC should not get that label.

Posted by: Doug B. | Aug 31, 2006 12:38:33 PM

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