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January 31, 2013

US Sentencing Commission releases (and provides on-line here only) new Booker report

I was very excited late yesterday to get a call from people at the US Sentencing Commission to tell me (1) that the USSC had completed and was starting to distribute its latest big new report on federal sentencing practice since Booker, and (2) that I could be the first website to post the report (and an accompanying press release) on-line due to the technical challenged now facing the USSC website.  Ergo, below are these documents, and here are excerpts from the press release (which is dated January 30, 2013):
Today the United States Sentencing Commission submitted to Congress its report assessing the continuing impact on the federal sentencing system of the Supreme Court’s 2005 opinion in United States v. Booker, which rendered the sentencing guidelines advisory.
Judge Patti B. Saris, chair of the Commission, stated: “The sentencing guidelines remain the essential starting point for determining all federal sentences and continue to exert significant influence on federal sentencing trends over time. Four out of five sentences imposed are either within the guideline range or below the guideline range at the request of the government. However, there are certain trends the Commission finds troubling, including increased regional and demographic differences.”
The Commission undertook statistical analyses of federal sentencing data spanning a broad time frame, from October 1995 through September 2011, and focused on offenses that comprise over 80 percent of the federal criminal docket (drug trafficking, immigration, fraud, firearms, child pornography, and career offenders). The study shows that sentences for drug trafficking, immigration, and firearms offenses continue to track the guidelines closely, but in recent years sentences for fraud and child pornography offenses have increasingly diverged from the guidelines.
The rate at which courts impose sentences within the applicable guideline range has decreased over the four time periods studied, from a high of 70.1 percent to 53.9 percent during the most recent time period studied. Much of this decrease is attributable to a corresponding increase in below range sentences not requested by the government, from a low of 5.7 percent to 17.4 percent during the most recent time period. These trends were consistent across all offense types studied, but to different degrees depending on the offense. Sentencing data from the last two fiscal years indicates that the rate of below range sentences has plateaued.
The study also reveals increased differences in rates of below range sentences across the nation, ranging from less than ten percent in some districts to more than 40 percent in others during the most recent time period studied. Furthermore, judges within the same district increasingly vary from the guidelines at different rates.
The study shows that prosecutorial practices also contribute to differences in sentencing. For example, certain charging practices vary and prosecutors in more districts are making motions for below range variances from the guidelines....
In addition to the printed portion of the report, the Commission will soon be making extensive data and information available online.

Download Booker_PressRelease_final

Download Part A - Continuing Impact of Booker on Federal Sentencing

Lots and lots of commentary on the report will follow the days ahead, but today I am otherwise tied up.

January 31, 2013 at 11:47 AM | Permalink


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Thanks for the links. Anyway you can link Part D? I am curious where my district falls. I am a defense attorney.

Posted by: keith williams | Jan 31, 2013 2:05:55 PM

keith williams --

It's a pleasure to hear from Gary Williams's nephew. Williams was a great coach. He couldn't attract the talent they get at UNC and Duke, but he got as much out of his talent as any ACC coach.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Jan 31, 2013 3:30:17 PM

"Technical Issues"- are you too grateful for the honor to admit that they got hacked?

Posted by: Curious Reader | Jan 31, 2013 10:10:54 PM

Hi Bill, thanks for the shout-out. We are proud of Gary. He is a role model for me in my work.

Posted by: keith williams | Feb 1, 2013 8:55:50 AM

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In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB