Office of Research and Data

About the Office of Research and Data

The Office of Research and Data provides the Commission with statistical and other social science research and analyses on specific sentencing issues and federal crime generally. As part of its work, the office receives documents from the federal courts concerning the sentences imposed on individual offenders, analyzes and enters information from those documents into a comprehensive computer database created and maintained by the Commission, and creates annual datafiles of sentencing information. Working with the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of Research and Data also collects information on organizations convicted of crimes and on appeals filed in individual and organizational cases.

As part of its ongoing work, the Office of Research and Data studies a wide variety of sentencing issues, including changes in the types and severity of federal crimes, changes in the demographic characteristics and criminal history of federal offenders, and sentencing trends in the federal courts. Using Commission data, the office creates periodic reports on federal sentencing practices and tracks the application of the sentencing guidelines. These reports provide data concerning the types of crimes committed, the offenders who commit those crimes, the punishments imposed, and the manner in which the sentencing guidelines were applied. The reports are distributed to the courts, Congress, the Executive Branch, and the public. Using Commission data and other data sources, the Office of Research and Data provides short– and long–term research and analysis for the Commission as part of its work to monitor the use of the guidelines and as it considers amending them. The office also provides projections of the effect on the federal prison population of proposed legislation and proposed guideline amendments. Additionally, the office provides analyses about specific criminal  justice and guideline application issues at the request of Congress and the courts.

The office creates datafiles of the Commission’s annual sentencing data and makes that data available to researchers through the Inter–University Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan. In fiscal year 2012, the office began making sentencing data available directly to the public through the Commission’s website. Also in fiscal year 2012, the office developed and the Commission launched an Interactive Sourcebook available to the public. Through this interactive website, users can view all of the data reported by the  Commission in its annual Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics as well data from additional analyses, and can tailor all of these analyses by year, judicial district, and judicial circuit.