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April 10, 2024

Lots of notable new items on the US Sentencing Commission's website including geographic FY 2023 sentencing data

Though we are still a week away from hearing from the US Sentencing Commission about possible new amendments to the US Sentencing Guidelines, I noted that the Commission has updated its website with a bunch of new items that seemed worth flagging.  These are drawn from the new items scroll from the USSC website homepage:


You can now explore an archive of the Commission's recorded training sessions. Use the filters within the archive to find the training session that meets your specific needs. Learn More


In this podcast miniseries, Commission staff chat with the federal judges who lead the problem-solving court programs available around the country. Parts One through Seven are out now!  Listen Here


These data reports compare fiscal year 2023 sentencing statistics for each federal circuit, district, and state to the nation as a whole. Learn More


This updated eLearning module uses real-world scenarios to illustrate the basics of the criminal history rules as amended in 2023. Learn More

I find all the USSC's materials and content interesting, but my data nerdiness really gets hit by the data reports page with fiscal year 2023 sentencing statistics for each federal circuit, district, and state.  That page includes a US map that allows you to see that the border district of Maine had only 116 federal sentencings in FY 2023, whereas the border district of the Western District of Texas had 7,539 federal sentencings in FY 2023.  And that the District Utah had more federal sentencings in FY 2023 sentencings (761) than did New Jersey (723), even though New Jersey has nearly three times the overall population as Utah.  

April 10, 2024 at 03:48 PM | Permalink


This would make for an interesting research paper. Does the type of crime/defendant drives the number of federal cases in each state? Or is it mostly due to other factors? Let your nerdiness be your guide! :) I'd read that if you ever wrote it.

Posted by: Anonymous | Apr 10, 2024 4:57:54 PM

Thanks, Anonymous, but I lack the empirical chops to do such a study in a rigorous way. I did co-author a paper building on USSC data discussing the huge modern drop in federal marijuana prosecutions/sentencings: "How State Reforms Have Mellowed Federal Enforcement of Marijuana Prohibition" https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3965571. As we discuss in that paper, the decline in prosecution reflects in various ways state-level reforms ("other factors"), though also reflects how there is less weed coming over the Southern border due to state-level reforms (crime patterns).

I sense the number of prosecutors working on certain types of cases matters a lot. For example, the Utah data for FY2023 show 140 immigration cases vs. only 21 for New Jersey. But that flips for Fraud/Theft/Embezzlement, with only 32 of those cases in Utah and 119 in New Jersey. I sense that fraud cases, for a bunch of reasons, tend to be more time consuming than immigration cases (and, of course, I am sure ther are many times the number of these crimes than actually get prosecuted in these states, especially with the fraud cases subject to state enforcement). Lots of devils in these details.

Posted by: Doug B | Apr 10, 2024 5:15:34 PM

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