Sourcebook 1996

United States Sentencing Commission

1996 Sourcebook of
Federal Sentencing Statistics

Introduction

This is the inaugural edition of the United States Sentencing Commission's Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics. This Sourcebook contains descriptive statistics on the application of the federal sentencing guidelines and provides selected district, circuit, and national sentencing data. The volume covers fiscal year 1996 (October 1, 1995, through September 30, 1996, hereinafter "1996"), and presents various trend analyses.

The Commission collects and analyzes data on guideline sentences to support its varied activities. As authorized by Congress, the Commission's numerous research responsibilities include: (1) the establishment of a research and development program to serve as a clearinghouse and information center for the collection, preparation and dissemination of information on federal sentencing practices; (2) the publication of data concerning the sentencing process; (3) the systematic collection and dissemination of information concerning sentences actually imposed and the relationship of such sentences to the factors set forth in section 3553(a) of title 18, United States Code; and (4) the systematic collection and dissemination of information regarding the effectiveness of sentences imposed (28 U.S.C. § 995(a)).

The Sentencing Commission maintains a comprehensive, computerized data collection system which forms the basis for its clearinghouse of federal sentencing information and which, in large part, drives the agency's research mission. Pursuant to its authority under 28 U.S.C.§§ 994(w) and 995(a)(8), and after discussions with the Judicial Conference Committee on Criminal Law and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the Commission requested that each probation office in each judicial district submit the following documents on every defendant sentenced under the guidelines:

Indictment

Presentence Report (PSR)

Report on the Sentencing Hearing (statement of reasons for imposing sentence as required by 18 U.S.C. § 3553(c))

Written Plea Agreement (if applicable)

Judgment of Conviction

Data from these documents are extracted and coded for input into various databases. It should be noted that data collection is a dynamic rather than a static process. When research questions arise, the Commission either analyzes existing data or adds information to its monitoring system.

For each case in its Monitoring Dataset, the Commission routinely collects case identifiers, sentencing data, demographic variables, statutory information, the complete range of court guideline decisions, and departure information. Throughout 1996, the Commission continued to add data elements to its extensive computerized datafile on defendants sentenced under the guidelines.

The Commission also maintains additional datasets to study a variety of sentencing-related issues. The Organizational Dataset captures information on organizations sentenced under Chapter Eight of the guidelines. The data collected describe organizational structure, size, and economic viability; offense of conviction; mode of adjudication; sanctions imposed; and application of the sentencing guidelines. The Appeals Dataset tracks appellate review of sentencing decisions. Information captured in this module includes district, circuit, dates of appeal and opinion, legal issues, and the court's disposition. In addition to its standard data collection, the Commission often codes additional variables to study various discrete issues (e.g., immigration offenses, child sex offenses).

The Commission's 1996 Monitoring Dataset contains documentation on 42,436 cases sentenced under the Sentencing Reform Act between October 1, 1995, and September 30, 1996. A "case" is defined as one sentencing event for an individual defendant. In addition, the Commission received information on 157 organizations that were sentenced under Chapter Eight of the sentencing guidelines in 1996.

The Commission also tracks final opinions and orders, both published and unpublished, in federal criminal appeals. During 1996, the Commission supplemented these opinions and orders with cases available on computerized legal databases and with habeas corpus decisions (although technically civil matters) because such cases often involve sentencing issues. In 1996, the Commission gathered information on 6,710 appellate court cases of which 2,448 were "conviction only" cases.

The appeals data system uses both the "group" and the "defendant" units of analysis. Each group comprises individual records representing all codefendants participating in a consolidated appeal. Each defendant's record comprises the sentencing-related issues corresponding to that particular defendant. These records, linked together by a unique Commission-assigned appeals identification number, constitute a single group.

The Commission's computerized datasets, without individual identifiers, are available via tape and the Internet through the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan (ICPSR). The Consortium can be contacted using the following Internet address: http://www.ICPSR.umich.edu. For more information, contact Dr. Christopher S. Dunn, ICPSR, P.O. Box 1248, Ann Arbor, MI 48106 or call 1-800-999-0960 or (313) 763-5011.

Tables and Figures

 


Topic

Table/Figure Number

Page


Circuit and District Statistics
   
  Document Submission Rate By Circuit And District Table 1 1
  Guideline Defendants By Circuit And District Table 2 4
Primary Offense and Offender Characteristics    
  Distribution Of Sentenced Guideline Defendants By Primary Offense Category Figure A 6
  Distribution Of Sentenced Guideline Defendants By Primary Offense Category Table 3 7
  Number Of Guideline Cases By Selected Offense Types And Year Figure B 8
  Race Of Defendant By Primary Offense Category Table 4 9
  Gender Of Defendant By Primary Offense Category Table 5 10
  Age Of Defendant By Primary Offense Category Table 6 11
  Age, Race, And Gender Of Defendants Table 7 12
  Education Of Defendant By Primary Offense Category Table 8 13
  Citizenship Status Of Defendant By Primary Offense Category Table 9 14
  Mode Of Conviction By Sentencing Year Figure C 15
  Mode Of Conviction By Circuit And District Table 10 16
  Mode Of Conviction By Primary Offense Category Table 11 19
Sentencing Information  
  Type Of Guideline Sentence Imposed Figure D 20
  Type Of Sentence Imposed By Primary Offense Category Table 12 21
  Average Sentence Length By Primary Offense Category Table 13 22
  Average Length Of Imprisonment By Grouped Primary Offense Categories And Year Figure E 23
  Average Length Of Imprisonment By Primary Offense And Criminal History Categories Table 14 24
  Fines And Restitution By Primary Offense Category Table 15 26
  Sentencing Zone By Type Of Sentence Imposed Table 16 27
  Imprisonment Rates Of Defendants Eligible For Non-Prison Sentences By Select Primary Offense Type Figure F 28
Guideline Application    
  Chapter Two Guideline Applied Table 17 29
  Chapter Three Guideline Application Information Table 18 31
  Acceptance Of Responsibility Reduction By Primary Offense Category Table 19 33
  Chapter Four Guideline Application Information Table 20 34
  Offense Level By Criminal History Category Table 21 36
  Career Offender/Armed Career Criminal Adjustments By Primary Offense Category Table 22 37
  Guideline Sentencing Range Table 23 38
Departures and Sentences Within the Guideline Range  
  Type Of Departure By Sentencing Year Figure G 39
  Reasons Given By Sentencing Courts For Upward Departures Table 24 40
  Reasons Given By Sentencing Courts For Downward Departures Table 25 40
  Guideline Departure Rate By Circuit And District Table 26 41
  Position Of Sentence Relative to Guideline Range By Primary Offense Category Table 27 44
Drug Cases    
  Distribution Of Drug Guideline Offenses Figure H 45
  Guideline Of Drug Defendants By Drug Type Table 28 46
  Race Of Drug Defendant By Drug Type Table 29 47
  Gender Of Drug Defendant By Drug Type Table 30 48
  Citizenship Of Drug Defendant By Drug Type Table 31 48
  Criminal History Category Of Drug Defendant By Drug Type Table 32 49
  Mode Of Conviction Of Drug Defendant By Drug Type Table 33 50
  Weapon Involvement Of Drug Defendant By Drug Type Table 34 50
  Role Adjustment Of Drug Defendant By Drug Type Table 35 51
  Acceptance Of Responsibility Of Drug Defendant By Drug Type Table 36 51
  Mean And Median Drug Amounts (In Grams) Of Drug Trafficking Defendants By Base Offense Level And Drug Type Table 37 52
  Drug Mandatory Minimum Status Of Drug Defendants By Drug Type Table 38 53
  Safety Valve And Drug Mandatory Minimum Status Of Drug Defendants By Drug Type Table 39 54
  Departure Status Of Drug Defendants By Drug Type Table 40 55
  Average Length of Imprisonment by Drug Type Figure I 56
  Number Of Drug Defendants By Drug Type And Year Figure J 57
  Race By Drug Type And Year For Drug Defendants Figure K 58
  Gender By Drug Type And Year For Drug Defendants Figure L 58
  Citizenship Status By Drug Type And Year For Drug Defendants Figure M 59
  Criminal History Status By Drug Type And Year For Drug Defendants Figure N 59
  Mode Of Conviction By Drug Type And Year For Drug Defendants Figure O 60
  Base Offense Level By Drug Type And Year For Drug Defendants Figure P 60
  Weapon Status By Drug Type And Year For Drug Defendants Figure Q 61
  Role By Drug Type And Year For Drug Defendants Figure R 61
  Acceptance Of Responsibility By Drug Type And Year For Drug Defendants Figure S 62
  Departure Status By Drug Type And Year For Drug Defendants Figure T 62
  Prison Sentence Imposed By Drug Type And Year For Drug Defendants Figure U 63
Immigration Cases    
  Demographic And Offense Information By Immigration Guideline Table 41 64
  Age Of Defendants By Immigration Guideline Table 42 65
  Citizenship Status Of Defendants By Immigration Guideline Table 43 66
  Criminal History Category By Immigration Guideline And Citizenship Status Table 44 67
  Sentence Imposed And Departure Status Of Defendant By Immigration Guideline Table 45 68
Organizational Sentencing Practices    
  Fine And Restitution Imposed By Primary Offense Category On Sentenced Organizations Table 46 69
  Organizations Sentenced Under Chapter Eight: Culpability Factors Table 47 70
Sentencing Appeals    
  Type of Appeal By Circuit and District Table 48 71
  Type And Disposition Of Appeals Cases Figure V 74
  Sentencing Appeals Case Disposition By Circuit And District Table 49 75
  Guideline Involved In Issues Appealed By Defendants Table 50 78
  Guideline Involved In Issues Appealed By the Government Table 51 79
  Sentencing Issues Appealed For Select Guidelines Table 52 80
  Select Offense And Offender Characteristics For Appeals Defendants Table 53 82
  Average Length Of Imprisonment For Appeals Defendants By Primary Offense Category Table 54 83


Appendix A
   
  Descriptions of Datafiles, Variables, and Footnotes    


Appendix B