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May 26, 2017

US Sentencing Commission releases report on "Youthful Offenders in the Federal System"

Cover_youthful-offendersThe US Sentencing Commission released this notable new report today titled simply "Youthful Offenders in the Federal System." Here is the report's introduction and "key findings" from its first two pages:


Although youthful offenders account for about 18 percent of all federal offenders sentenced between fiscal years 2010 and 2015, there is little current information published about them.  In this publication, the United States Sentencing Commission (“the Commission”) presents information about youthful offenders, who for purposes of this report are defined as persons age 25 or younger at the time they are sentenced in the federal system.

Recent studies on brain development and age, coupled with recent Supreme Court decisions recognizing differences in offender culpability due to age, have led some policymakers to reconsider how youthful offenders should be punished.  This report reviews those studies and provides an overview of youthful federal offenders, including their demographic characteristics, what type of offenses they were sentenced for, how they were sentenced, and the extent of their criminal histories.

The report also discusses the intersection of neuroscience and law, and how this intersection has influenced the treatment of youthful offenders in the criminal justice system. The Commission is releasing this report as part of its review of the sentencing of youthful offenders.  In June 2016, the Commission’s Tribal Issues Advisory Group (TIAG) issued a report that proposed several guideline and policy changes relating to youthful offenders, including departure provisions and alternatives to incarceration.

Because many of the TIAG recommendations on this topic apply to all youthful offenders, and not just Native Americans, the Commission voted to study the treatment of youthful offenders as a policy priority for the 2016-2017 amendment cycle.

The key findings in this report are that:

• There were 86,309 offenders (18.0% of the federal offender population) age 25 or younger sentenced in the federal system between 2010 and 2015.

• The majority (57.8%) of youthful offenders are Hispanic.

• There were very few youthful offenders under the age of 18 sentenced in the federal system (52 between 2010 and 2015).

• Almost 92 percent of offenses committed by youthful offenders were nonviolent offenses.

• Similar to the overall federal offender population (or non-youthful offenders group) the most common offenses that youthful offenders committed were drug trafficking (30.9%), immigration (28.6%), and firearms offenses (13.7%).

• The average sentence for youthful offenders was 34.9 months.

• Youthful offenders were more likely to be sentenced within the guidelines range than non-youthful offenders (56.1% compared to 50.1%).

• Youthful offenders recidivated at a much higher rate than their older counterparts — about 67 percent versus 41 percent.

May 26, 2017 at 10:46 AM | Permalink


Recidivism was 50% higher in the young than in the old.

Is youth a mitigating or an aggravating factor? Whichever the choice, please, explain the lawyer thinking.

Do mentally ill people commit more or fewer crimes than the sane?

Do mentally regarded people commit more or fewer crimes than people of average intelligence?

Should mitigating factors become aggravating factors?

Posted by: David Behar | May 26, 2017 2:41:13 PM

The word, offense, or non-violent offense, that is the adjudicated charge. In 95% of cases it the pled adjudicated charge.

So pistol whipped victims of a home invasion are terrorized, will not testify. The prosecutor offers, criminal trespass. Was the crime a non-violent crime.

The researchers are peddling fictitious statistics. They should, at least, count the indicted charges. z

I am frustrated by the number of obvious mistakes in this report.

Posted by: David Behar | May 26, 2017 2:46:28 PM

I would appreciate an effective contact for these reports. I want to communicate privately, to improve them. They are terrible. Who writes these reports? Is it, Glenn R. Schmitt, Director, Office of Research and Data?

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