Sourcebook 1998

U. S. Sentencing Commission’s
Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics

Sourcebook

Introduction

This is the third 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 1998 (October 1, 1997, through September 30, 1998, hereinafter “1998”).

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 offender 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.

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).

Offender Dataset

For each case in its Offender Dataset, the Commission routinely collects case identifiers, sentencing data, demographic variables, statutory information, the complete range of court guideline decisions, and departure information. Throughout 1998, the Commission continued to add data elements to its extensive computerized datafile on defendants sentenced under the guidelines.

The Commission’s 1998 USSC Offender Dataset contains documentation on 50,754 cases sentenced under the Sentencing Reform Act between October 1, 1997, and September 30, 1998. A “case” is defined as one sentencing event for an individual defendant. While the 1998 reporting year includes cases sentenced between October 1, 1997, and September 30, 1998, it is important to note that the data collected and analyzed in the 1998 Annual Report and 1998 Sourcebook of Sentencing Statistics reflect only cases reported to the Commission (i.e., guidelines cases for which the courts forwarded appropriate documentation to the Commission by February 22, 1999). Consequently, if a court fails to forward documentation on a case to the Commission, the agency will not have a record of that particular sentencing. This reliance on physical receipt of court records by the Commission allows for three potential areas of guideline case underreporting: (1) court failure to submit case documentation; (2) a misunderstanding of the types of cases to be submitted; and (3) cases lost in-transit between a court and the Commission.

Organizational Dataset

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 Commission received information on 218 organizations that were sentenced under Chapter Eight of the sentencing guidelines in 1998.

Appeals Dataset

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 also tracks final opinions and orders, both published and unpublished, in federal criminal appeals. During 1998, 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 1998, the Commission gathered information on 6,387 appellate court cases of which 2,733 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.


Contents

Tables and Figures

Topic Table/Figure Number
Circuit and District Statistics  
  Document Submission Rate of Each Circuit and District Table 1
  Guideline Offenders in Each Circuit and District Table 2
Primary Offense and Offender Characteristics  
  Distribution of Offenders in Each Primary Offense Category Figure A
  Guideline Offenders in Each Primary Offense Category Table 3
  Number of Guideline Offenders in Selected Offense Types Figure B
  Race of Offenders in Each Primary Offense Category Table 4
  Gender of Offenders in Each Primary Offense Category Table 5
  Age Of Offenders in Each Primary Offense Category Table 6
  Age, Race, and Gender of Offenders Table 7
  Education of Offenders in Each Primary Offense Category Table 8
  Citizenship of Offenders in Each Primary Offense Category Table 9
  Guilty Pleas and Trial Rates Figure C
  Guilty Pleas and Trials in Each Circuit and District Table 10
  Guilty Pleas and Trials in Each Primary Offense Category Table 11
Sentencing Information
  Distribution of Offenders Receiving Sentencing Options Figure D
  Offenders Receiving Sentencing Options in Each Primary Offense Category Table 12
  Average Sentence Length in Each Primary Offense Category Table 13
  Average Length of Imprisonment for Offenders in Each Criminal History Category by Primary Offense Category Table 14
  Average Length of Imprisonment in Each General Crime Category Figure E
  Offenders Receiving Fines and Restitution in Each Primary Offense Category Table 15
  Type of Sentence Imposed on Offenders in Each Sentencing Zone Table 16
  Imprisonment of Offenders Eligible for Non-prison Sentences in Selected Offense Types Figure F
Guideline Application  
  Offenders Sentenced for Each Chapter Two Guideline Table 17
  Offenders Receiving Each Chapter Three Guideline Adjustment Table 18
  Offenders Receiving Acceptance of Responsibility Reductions in Each Primary Offense Category Table 19
  Offenders Receiving Chapter Four Criminal History Points Table 20
  Offenders in Each Offense Level and Criminal History Category Table 21
  Offenders Receiving Career Offender/Armed Career Criminal Adjustments in Each Primary Offense Category Table 22
  Offenders in Each Guideline Sentencing Range Table 23
Departures and Sentences Within the Guideline Range
  Percent of Offenders Receiving Each Type of Departure Figure G
  Reasons Given by Sentencing Courts for Upward Departures Table 24
  Reasons Given by Sentencing Courts for Downward Departures Table 25
  Guideline Departure Rate by Circuit and District Table 26
  Offenders Receiving Departures Within Each Primary Offense Category Table 27
  Offenders Receiving Departures in Each Primary Sentencing Guideline Table 28
  Within-Range Cases: Position of Sentence for Offenders in Each Primary Offense Category
Table 29
  Position of Sentence Within Sentencing Range for Selected Offenses
Figure H
  Substantial Assistance Cases: Degree of Departure for Offenders in Each Primary Offense Category
Table 30
  Downward Departure Cases: Degree of Departure for Offenders in Each Primary Offense Category
Table 31
  Upward Departure Cases: Degree of Departure for Offenders in Each Primary Offense Category Table 32
Drug Cases  
  Distribution of Guideline Drug Offenses Figure I
  Primary Drug Type of Offenders Sentenced Under Each Drug Guideline Table 33
  Race of Drug Offenders for Each Drug Type Table 34
  Gender of Drug Offenders for Each Drug Type Table 35
  Citizenship of Drug Offenders for Each Drug Type Table 36
  Criminal History Category of Drug Offenders for Each Drug Type Table 37
  Plea and Trial Rates of Drug Offenders for Each Drug Type Table 38
  Weapon Involvement of Drug Offenders for Each Drug Type Table 39
  Role Adjustment of Drug Offenders for Each Drug Type Table 40
  Acceptance of Responsibility of Drug Offenders for Each Drug Type Table 41
  Mean and Median Drug Amounts (In Grams) for Selected Base Offense Levels and Drug Types Table 42
  Drug Offenders Receiving Mandatory Minimums for Each Drug Type Table 43
  Drug Offenders Receiving Safety Valve and Mandatory Minimums for Each Drug Type Table 44
  Drug Offenders Receiving Departures for Each Drug Type Table 45
  Average Length of Imprisonment for Each Drug Type Figure J
  Number of Drug Offenders for Each Drug Type Figure K
  Mean Length of Imprisonment for Each Drug Type Figure L
Immigration Cases  
  Demographic and Offense Information for Immigration Offenses Table 46
  Age of Offenders Sentenced Under Immigration Guidelines Table 47
  Citizenship of Offenders Sentenced Under Immigration Guidelines Table 48
  Criminal History Category and Citizenship of Offenders Sentenced Under Immigration Guidelines Table 49
  Mean and Median Sentences of Offenders Sentenced under Immigration Guidelines by Departure Status Table 50
Organizational Sentencing Practices  
  Fine and Restitution Imposed by Primary Offense Category on Sentenced Organizations Table 51
  Organizations Sentenced Under Chapter Eight: Culpability Factors Table 52
Sentencing Appeals  
  Types of Appeal in Each Circuit and District Table 53
  Type and Disposition of Appeals Cases Figure M
  Disposition of Sentencing Appeals in Each Circuit and District Table 54
  Guideline Involved in Issues Appealed by the Defendants Table 55
  Guideline Involved in Issues Appealed by the Government Table 56
  Sentencing Issues Appealed for Selected Guidelines Table 57
  Offense and Offender Characteristics of Appeals Defendants Table 58
  Average Length of Imprisonment for Appeals Defendants in Each Primary Offense Category Table 59
Appendix A  
  Descriptions of Datafiles, Variables, and Footnotes  
Appendix B  
  Selected Sentencing Statistics by District