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August 29, 2007

Latest quarterly post-Booker data from USSC

I am very pleased to see, on the USSC Booker page, the latest quarterly update with the most recent post-Booker sentencing data available at this link. Here's how the USSC describes this data:

FY2007 3nd Quarterly Sentencing Update (Published August 29, 2007): An extensive set of tables and charts presenting cumulative quarterly data on cases sentenced in fiscal year 2007. The numbers are prepared using data sentenced by close-of-business on June 30, 2007 and received, coded, and edited by the Commission by August 24, 2007.

Readers are encourage to help me discover if this latest data run includes any really suprising numbers.

August 29, 2007 at 11:54 AM | Permalink


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At first, the 61.2% within guideline surprised me as being very low until I saw that another 25.2% were government sponsored downward departures, meaning that there was a "rule" that justified the departure other than the more subjective and discretionary 3553 or Booker arguments. This, to me, means that 86.3% of all sentences are within guideline either directly or indirectly and essentially in agreement with the government's sentencing recommendations. (See Table 1, page 7)

I was interested in how often the judge decides outside the government's recommendations, and whether these departures were above or below. I assumed that judges would have sentenced above the guidelines far more than below largely because most defendants give up their appellate rights with a plea agreement so there is no risk for the judge to sentence above guideline (as long as he stays below the maximum). However, if a judge sentences below guideline, he risks an appeal from the government and, as so many of your posts indicate, appellate courts don't seem to find many below guideline sentences reasonable.

However, the numbers indicate that only 1.6% of the cases are above guideline and 12.1% are below guideline.

This means that, if a judge departs from the government's recommendations, he is 7.5 times more likely to favor leniency than severity.

That surprised me (assuming I am interpreting the numbers correctly).

Posted by: Dr Bill | Aug 29, 2007 9:29:38 PM

It seems really bad that of the total numbers (when it comes to offenses)that drug traffic and immigration make up the major of the total numbers. That should seem really biased. Even pornagraphy and murders are less, and you hear about murders everyday. It is really interesting.

Posted by: jubria | Aug 29, 2007 10:52:52 PM

Murder is well represented in state sentencing statistics, and federal murder is rather rare. Drugs and immigration are priorities that Americans seem to favor through their choices at the ballot box. It is hardly a surprise.

And after all, all one has to do is "just say 'no'," whether it's someone offering you a crack pipe or someone offering you a ride from Juarez.

Posted by: Dweedle | Aug 30, 2007 12:04:54 PM

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