This is the twenty-second 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 2017 (October 1, 2016, through September 30, 2017, hereinafter “2017”). This Sourcebook, together with the 2017 Annual Report, constitutes the annual report referenced in 28 U.S.C. § 997, as well as the analysis, recommendations, and accounting to Congress referenced in 28 U.S.C. § 994(w)(3).
The Commission has continued its statutory mission to collect data on federal sentencing decisions. The Commission received documentation on 66,873 federal felony and Class A misdemeanor cases in fiscal year 2017. The Commission coded and edited information from the sentencing documents in these cases into its comprehensive, computerized data collection system.
The Commission collects and analyzes data on federal sentences to support its various 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.
The Commission maintains a comprehensive, computerized data collection system which forms the basis for its clearinghouse of federal sentencing information and which contributes to the agency’s research mission.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 994(w), the chief judge of each district is required to ensure that within 30 days of entry of judgment in a criminal case, the sentencing court submits a report of sentence to the Commission that includes (1) the judgment and commitment order; (2) the written statement of reasons; (3) any plea agreement; (4) the indictment or other charging document; (5) the presentence report; and (6) any other information the Commission requests.
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 data collection system.
In 2012, the Commission began making its datasets available through the Commission’s website. The Commission’s computerized datasets, without individual identifiers, are also available through the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan (ICPSR).
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 and variance information. Throughout 2017, the Commission continued to add data elements to its extensive computerized datafile on defendants sentenced under the guidelines. In addition to its standard data collection, the Commission often codes additional variables to study various distinct issues (e.g., drug offenses, criminal history).
The Commission’s 2017 USSC Offender Dataset contains documentation on 66,873 felony and Class A misdemeanor cases in which the offender was sentenced between October 1, 2016, and September 30, 2017. A “case” is defined as one sentencing event for an individual defendant.
The Organizational Dataset contains documentation on organizations sentenced pursuant to Chapter Eight of the Guidelines Manual in 2017. The Commission collects available data on organizational structure, size, and economic viability; offense of conviction; mode of adjudication; sanctions imposed (including probation and court-ordered compliance programs); and application of the sentencing guidelines. The Commission received information on 131 organizations sentenced pursuant to Chapter Eight of the Guidelines Manual.
While the 2017 reporting year includes cases sentenced between October 1, 2016, and September 30, 2017, it is important to note that the individual offender and organizational data collected and analyzed in the 2017 Annual Report and 2017 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics reflect cases for that fiscal year reported to the Commission (i.e., guidelines cases for which the courts forwarded appropriate documentation to the Commission) by February 14, 2018.
The Appeals Dataset tracks appellate review of sentencing decisions. Information captured in this module includes district, circuit, date of opinion, sentencing issues, and the appellate court’s disposition. The Commission also tracks final opinions and orders, both published and unpublished, in federal criminal appeals. In 2017, the Commission gathered information on 7,808 cases decided by the courts of appeal. Cases involving co-appellants are treated as separate appeals for statistical purposes.
The Commission implemented a data collection system to track resentencings and other modifications of sentence in 2008. The information collected includes judicial district, reason for resentencing, new sentence, and guideline application information, if available. Information is collected on eight types of resentencings and other modifications of sentence. In 2017, the Commission received documentation on 5,243 resentencings and other modifications of sentence.
The information in this Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics can also be found using an online resource, the "Interactive Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics". All of the tables and figures in this Sourcebook are available in the online version. Additionally, many other tables and figures providing further analysis of federal sentencing statistics can be found there. These additional tables and figures are not included in the printed Sourcebook. The data in the Interactive Sourcebook can be tailored to any district or group of districts, or to a circuit or group of circuits. Users can also change the fiscal year of the data presented, or group multiple years of data into one analysis. All analyses using the online tool can be saved into a .pdf format for later use or printing.
1 28 U.S.C. § 994(w); USSG §1B1.9.
2 28 U.S.C. §§ 995(a)(12) and (14) – (16).
3 The Commission’s datasets can be found at https://www.ussc.gov/research/datafiles/commission-datafiles.
4 The Consortium’s website address is https://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/index.jsp.