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March 16, 2009

Another notable new little data report from the USSC

Lately the US Sentencing Commission has been producing a series of interesting little reports on interesting little federal sentencing topics.  Specifically, just in the last few months we have gotten new (and reader-friendly) reports on federal escape offenses and on the growth of the federal criminal caseload and on alternative sentencing in the federal system.  And now today I see up on the USSC's website this latest addition to its releasing of notable little reports:

Impact of Prior Minor Offenses on Eligibility for Safety Valve:  This report provides an analysis of the role of convictions for prior minor offenses in the sentences of federal offenders.  offenders from receiving a sentence below the statutory mandatory minimum punishments for drug trafficking crimes.  The publication utilizes data drawn from a large research sample of offenders sentenced in fiscal year 2006.

Here is the full text of the conclusion of this latest report:

Prior convictions for minor offenses have a minimal impact on safety valve eligibility. Some offenders are subject to an increase in their criminal history score and become ineligible for safety valve relief as a result of their prior minor offenses.  However, these offenders comprise a very small percentage of the drug trafficking offender population.  Therefore, the notion that including minor offenses in the criminal history calculation causes wide spread inequity in sentencing is an overstatement.  Of the 24,483 drug trafficking offenders in the sample, only 260 (1.1%) were disqualified from eligibility for the safety valve provision due to minor offenses in their criminal history. For the vast majority of drug trafficking offenders, past convictions for minor offenses have no effect on the punishment they receive for their later federal crime.

March 16, 2009 at 02:42 PM | Permalink


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I'm sure this report is very reassuring to the 260 people who were subject to the inequality of the system. It would be great to know, on average, how much longer these 260 people were imprisoned for due solely to minor past conduct. The next time a client has this problem, let's make sure to show him/her this report: “Don't worry. Injustice only happened to you...and not a lot of others.”

Just because something is not wide spread, doesn’t make it any less of an injustice. It's especially more problematic when the problem's so easy to fix.

Posted by: not widespread injustice | Mar 16, 2009 6:59:50 PM

My husband is one of the 260. An extra 5 years he got, away from his family and his kids, for a DWI. It saddens me, that they act like 260 isn't enough to really do anything about. They should talk to the 260's family.

Posted by: Mrs. Lacy | Mar 17, 2009 1:27:17 PM

The amount of divorce information available online can be small, but divorce forms can be downloaded online.

Posted by: Divorce Forms | Mar 26, 2009 10:40:35 AM

That is alot of data for one day. My uncontested divorce form was way easier!

Posted by: uncontested divorce form | Mar 26, 2009 3:41:28 PM

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