Youthful Offenders in the Federal System

Report Summary

2016 Recidivism Study Overview This publication presents information about youthful offenders (age 25 or younger for purposes of this report), including their demographic characteristics, what type of offenses they were sentenced for, how they were sentenced, and the extent of their criminal histories.  The report also discusses the intersection of neuroscience and law, and how this intersection has influenced the treatment of youthful offenders in the criminal justice system. (Published May 26, 2017)

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Key Findings

  • There were 86,309 offenders (18.0% of the federal offender population) age 25 or younger sentenced in the federal system between 2010 and 2015.

  • The majority (57.8%) of youthful offenders are Hispanic.

  • There were very few youthful offenders under the age of 18 sentenced in the federal system (52 between 2010 and 2015).

  • Almost 92 percent of offenses committed by youthful offenders were nonviolent offenses.

  • Similar to the overall federal offender population (or non-youthful offenders group) the most common offenses that youthful offenders committed were drug trafficking (30.9%), immigration (28.6%), and firearms offenses (13.7%).

  • The average sentence for youthful offenders was 34.9 months.

  • Youthful offenders were more likely to be sentenced within the guidelines range than non-youthful offenders (56.1% compared to 50.1%).

  • Youthful offenders recidivated at a much higher rate than their older counterparts—about 67 percent versus 41 percent.