What is the Judiciary Sentencing INformation (JSIN) platform?
The Judiciary Sentencing INformation (JSIN) platform is an online sentencing data resource specifically developed with the needs of judges in mind. The platform provides quick and easy online access to sentencing data for similarly situated defendants. JSIN expands upon the Commission’s longstanding practice of providing sentencing data at the request of federal judges by making some of the data provided through these special requests more broadly and easily available. If the court does consider the sentencing information provided by JSIN as part of its consideration of the factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) when imposing sentence, it should do so only after considering the properly calculated guideline range and any applicable departures provided for in the Guidelines Manual.
Go behind the scenes with JSIN in this Commission Chats podcast episode! Acting Chair Breyer and the Director of the Office of Research and Data talk about its development, how to best utilize it, and what the future holds for JSIN. Listen here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What information does JSIN provide?
JSIN provides cumulative data based on five years of sentencing data for offenders sentenced under the same primary guideline, and with the same Final Offense Level and Criminal History Category selected. JSIN first provides statistical information relating to the sentence relative to the guideline range for the selected cell. After excluding cases involving a §5K1.1 substantial assistance departure, JSIN next provides a comparison of the proportion of offenders sentenced to a term of imprisonment to those sentenced to a non-imprisonment sentence. Finally, JSIN provides the national average and median “length of imprisonment” and “sentence length” for offenders in the selected cell. See below for more information about these measurements.
Note that JSIN will NOT report sentencing information if fewer than three offenders meet the selected criteria and received a sentence of imprisonment (in whole or in part).
How do I navigate the JSIN platform?
The JSIN tool enables a user to obtain information about offenders sentenced under the same primary guideline, and with the same Final Offense Level and Criminal History Category selected, for the past five fiscal years. Using the menu on the left-hand side of the page, users may select the primary Chapter Two sentencing guideline. For cases involving drug trafficking, the user must also specify the primary drug involved in that offense. Users may also select the filter to include “Sentence Length Data” (national average and median sentence length, including non-imprisonment sentences) in the results.
By clicking within a specific cell in the Sentencing Table—the intersection of the applicable Final Offense Level and Criminal History Category—the results will populate on the right-hand side of the screen. In the results section, JSIN aggregates results for all cases matching the three criteria selected: 1) the primary sentencing guideline, 2) the Final Offense Level, and 3) the Criminal History Category. Note that JSIN will NOT report sentencing information if fewer than three offenders meet the selected criteria and received a sentence of imprisonment (in whole or in part). For most analyses, including the average and median length of imprisonment and sentence length, cases in which §5K1.1 substantial assistance departures were granted are excluded.
Which fiscal years are used to calculate the average and median sentence?
JSIN’s results are calculated using the most recent five full fiscal years of Commission sentencing data. The Commission collects and reports its annual sentencing data using the fiscal year cycle followed by the Federal government’s annual budget. The fiscal year runs from October 1 of the prior year through September 30 of the year described. For example, FY 2021 includes any offenders sentenced on October 1, 2020 through September 30, 2021. Sentencing information reported by JSIN is dynamic and will change over time as data for future fiscal years are added.
What is the “primary sentencing guideline” if multiple guidelines apply?
When more than one sentencing guideline is applied in a case, the “primary sentencing guideline” is the guideline that produces the highest adjusted Final Offense Level based on the Base Offense Level, all applicable Specific Offense Characteristics, and Chapter Three Adjustments prior to the application of multiple count units.
Which drug type do I select and what is the “primary drug type” if multiple drug types are involved?
In order to obtain data regarding drug trafficking offenses, JSIN requires both a guideline and information on drug type. In a case involving multiple substances, the primary drug type in JSIN is based on the drug type that produces the highest Base Offense Level.
What is the filter for Consecutive Mandatory Minimum? How does it work?
When applicable, certain federal statutes require a sentencing judge to impose a mandatory minimum penalty consecutive to any other term of imprisonment imposed for a separate substantive offense. The two most common mandatory consecutive penalties are found at 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) and 18 U.S.C. § 1028A. Section 924(c) prohibits using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to, or possessing a firearm in furtherance of, a “crime of violence” or “drug trafficking crime.” The statute prescribes a mandatory minimum penalty of at least five years of imprisonment, with increasingly longer penalties based on how the firearm was used (seven years if the firearm was brandished and ten years if the firearm was discharged) and the type of firearm involved in the crime (ten years if the firearm was a short-barreled rifle, a short-barreled shotgun, or a semiautomatic assault weapon and 30 years if the weapon was a machinegun, a destructive device or was equipped with a silencer or muffler). Section 924(c) further requires that these mandatory minimum penalties must be imposed in addition to and must run consecutively to “any other term of imprisonment imposed on the person, including any term of imprisonment imposed for the” underlying crime of violence or drug trafficking crime. Section 1028A provides enhanced punishment for aggravated identity theft, including a two-year mandatory minimum penalty. Section 1028A requires that the mandatory minimum two-year term of imprisonment be imposed consecutively to “any other term of imprisonment imposed on the person under any other provision of law, including any term of imprisonment imposed for the felony during which the means of identification was transferred, possessed, or used.” The statute directs the court not to reduce any sentence for the underlying felony, assuming the defendant is convicted separately of the underlying felony, to “compensate for, or otherwise take into account, any separate term of imprisonment” to be imposed for a violation of section 1028A.
Unlike other mandatory minimum penalties, neither of these mandatory consecutive penalties are reflected in the final offense level calculated under the guidelines. Instead, the applicable guidelines provide that the guideline sentence for the consecutive mandatory minimum penalty is the minimum term required by the statute. In the absence of a filter, JSIN would provide results that combined all offenders in a cell with the selected primary guideline without regard to whether the defendant was also convicted of a mandatory consecutive penalty. Such results may not sufficiently distinguish offenders.
The “Consecutive Mandatory Minimum” filter addresses this issue by allowing users to obtain sentencing data for either (1) those offenders sentenced pursuant to the selected primary guideline who were not also convicted of a mandatory consecutive penalty or (2) those offenders who were sentenced pursuant to the selected primary guideline and were also convicted of at least one count of either section 924(c) or 1028A (depending on the filters chosen). For example, a user selecting §2B3.1 as the primary guideline and leaving the “Consecutive Mandatory Minimum” filter as None in the 924(c) option (the default) would receive results only for those offenders without a conviction under section 924(c). Selecting At Least One Count in the filter would change the result to provide sentencing information for those offenders whose primary guideline was §2B3.1 and who were also convicted of at least one count of either section 924(c). The two groups (those with the filter applied and those without) are mutually exclusive.
What is the filter for Sentence Length Data? How does it work?
By default, JSIN provides the national average and median length of imprisonment for offenders in the selected cell who received a sentence of imprisonment in whole or in part (“Length of Imprisonment”). Generally, “Length of Imprisonment” data is the appropriate choice for judges that have decided to impose a sentence of imprisonment (as opposed to probation or an alternative sentence). As the majority of federal cases involve prison only sentences, the default results provide average and median “Length of Imprisonment.”
The ”Sentence Length” data filter allows users the option to also include the national average and median sentence length (including non-imprisonment sentences) in the results. For example, a judge may wish to select the “Sentence Length” option if the result for the selected cell indicates a large percentage offenders received a non-imprisonment sentence or the selected cell is in a sentencing zone that make offenders eligible for alternative sentences or sentences of probation and the judge determines a non-imprisonment sentence is appropriate.
How is average and median "length of imprisonment" determined in the results?
JSIN reports the average and median term of imprisonment imposed in months for cases in which a term of imprisonment was imposed. Probation sentences are excluded. Any portion of a sentence that is an alternative confinement as described in §5C1.1 of the Guidelines Manual is also excluded. Cases in which a sentence is imposed, but where the length is indeterminable, are excluded. When sentences are expressed as “time served” on the J&C, Commission staff uses the dates in federal custody to determine the length of time served, provided the offender has been in custody the entire time from arrest to sentencing. If the offender has been in and out of custody, or the start date is unclear/missing, then the Commission assigns a value of one day as a minimal time served amount for these cases. In cases where the court imposes a sentence of life imprisonment, sentences are reported as 470 months, a length consistent with the average life expectancy of federal criminal offenders given the average age of federal offenders. Sentences of greater than 470 months are also reported as 470 months.
How is average and median "sentence length" determined in the results?
JSIN reports the average and median term of imprisonment imposed in months. Probation sentences are included as zero months. Any portion of a sentence that is an alternative confinement as described in USSG §5C1.1 is also included. Cases in which a sentence is imposed, but where the length is indeterminable, are excluded. When sentences are expressed as “time served” on the J&C, Commission staff uses the dates in federal custody to determine the length of time served when an offender has been in custody the entire time. If the offender has been in and out of custody, or the start date is unclear/missing, then the Commission assigns a value of one day as a minimal time served amount for these cases. In cases where the court imposes a sentence of life imprisonment, sentences are reported as 470 months, a length consistent with the average life expectancy of federal criminal offenders given the average age of federal offenders. Sentences of greater than 470 months are also reported as 470 months.
JSIN reported that an insufficient number of offenders met my selected criteria during the last five fiscal years. What does that mean?
In order to provide sentencing information for similarly situated offenders, JSIN aggregates results for all offenders matching the three criteria selected (thereby falling in a particular cell on the Sentencing Table): 1) the primary sentencing guideline, 2) the Final Offense Level, and 3) the Criminal History Category. As the number of offenders is not evenly distributed across the Sentencing Table, there are times when too few offenders were sentenced under a particular cell to conduct a meaningful statistical analysis. Consistent with Commission practice, JSIN will NOT report sentencing information if fewer than three offenders meet the selected criteria.
Does the Commission recommend that a federal judge consider information obtained from JSIN in deciding an appropriate sentence in a particular case?
The average and median sentencing data provided by JSIN does not reflect the Commission’s recommendation regarding the appropriate sentence to be imposed or represent the Commission’s official position on any issue or case. Nor does the information provided reflect the Commission’s position regarding the weight to be given, if any, to national average and median sentences in a court’s determination of the appropriate sentence to be imposed.
Who can I ask if I run into a problem with JSIN and need assistance?
Send your inquiry regarding the JSIN platform to PubAffairs@ussc.gov.