The data in this report pertain to cases sentenced both before and after the United States Supreme Court’s June 24, 2004, decision in Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004). The tables in this Sourcebook are organized into three sections:
• The first section consists of Tables 1-9, 55-56A, 60-61 and Figures A-B which contain basic, descriptive statistics for all of FY 2004 (October 1, 2003, through September 30, 2004).
• The second section consists of Tables 10-54, 57-59, and Figures C-M for the pre-Blakely period of FY 2004 (October 1, 2003, through June 24, 2004).
• The third section consists of Tables 10-54, 57-59, and Figures C-M for the post-Blakely period of FY 2004 (June 25, 2004, through September 30, 2004).
This is the ninth 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 2004 (October 1, 2003, through September 30, 2004, hereinafter “2004”). This Sourcebook together with the 2004 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).
Blakely v. Washington
On June 24, 2004, the Supreme Court decided Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004), a landmark case that invalidated a sentence imposed under the state of Washington’s sentencing guidelines statute. The decision held that the judicial application of an enhanced sentencing range under the Washington state guidelines violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. The Court stated that it expressed no opinion on the federal sentencing guidelines, which were not before it. After the decision, however, federal circuit and district courts voiced varying opinions on the implications of the decision for federal sentencing. The Supreme Court accepted for expedited review two federal sentencing guidelines cases, United States v. Booker and United States v. Fanfan, to clarify the implications of the decision for the federal sentencing guidelines, and the Sentencing Commission filed an amicus curiae brief in the case.
The Commission received documentation on 70,068 cases sentenced in fiscal year 2004. Of these cases, 51,865 were sentenced prior to the Supreme Court decision in Blakely. The Commission coded and assimilated the information from these sentencings into its comprehensive, computerized data collection system.
The Commission also coded and assimilated the information from 18,203 sentencings conducted after Blakely. Because the mandatory nature of the guidelines was uncertain during the post-Blakely portion of fiscal year 2004, the Commission decided to create two datasets analyzing the federal sentences imposed in fiscal year 2004. One dataset contains cases sentenced between October 1, 2003, and June 24, 2004, the date of the Blakely decision. During this period, courts clearly were required by statute and by Supreme Court precedent to mandatorily apply the guidelines. From June 25, 2004, through September 30, 2004, courts post-Blakely arrived at different conclusions regarding the continued viability of the guidelines and did not apply those guidelines in a uniform fashion. As a consequence, the Commission could no longer rely upon the assumption that the guidelines had been mandatorily applied. Accordingly, the Commission created a separate dataset for the post-Blakely cases. This dataset analyzes cases sentenced from June 25, 2004, through September 30, 2004.
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)(12) and (14) through (16) inclusive).
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 28 U.S.C. § 994(w) (as amended by section 401(h) of the PROTECT Act, which became effective April 30, 2003), each chief judge of a district is required to ensure that within 30 days after 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 statement of reasons (including the reasons for any departures); (3) any plea agreement; (4) the indictment or other charging document; (5) the presentence report; and (6) any other information the Commission needs.
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) and the Federal Justice Statistics Resource Center.
<p>For each case in its <strong>Offender Dataset</strong>, the Commission routinely collects case identifiers, sentencing data, demographic variables, statutory information, the complete range of court guideline decisions, and departure information. Throughout 2004, 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 discrete issues (<em>e.g</em>., drug offenses, criminal history).</p><p>The Commission’s 2004 USSC Offender Dataset contains documentation on 70,068 cases sentenced under the Sentencing Reform Act between October 1, 2003, and September 30, 2004. A “case” is defined as one sentencing event for an individual defendant.</p><p>The <strong>Organizational Dataset</strong> captures information on organizations sentenced under Chapter Eight of the guidelines. 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 130 organizations that were sentenced under Chapter Eight of the sentencing guidelines in 2004.</p><p>While the 2004 reporting year includes cases sentenced between October 1, 2003, and September 30, 2004, it is important to note that the offender and organizational data collected and analyzed in the 2004 Annual Report and 2004 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).</p><p>The<strong> Appeals Dataset</strong> 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 2004, the Commission gathered information on 7,213 appellate court cases of which 2,102 were appeals of the “conviction only.”</p><p>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.</p><p><sup>1</sup> Using the Internet address http://www.JCPSR.umich.edu/NACJD/archive.html or http://fjsrc.urban.org/ Commission datasets can be accessed.</p><p><sup>2</sup> In 1992, the Commission implemented a data collection system to track appellate review of sentencing decisions. Each fiscal year, data collection for appellate review is accomplished by a three-step method. First, many appellate courts submit slip opinions of both published and unpublished opinions and orders directly to the Commission. The Commission creates a master list of these opinions as they are received. Second, the Commission performs a supplemental computer search for all published and unpublished opinions and orders using commercially available legal databases, and adds any available decisions not received directly from the courts to the master list. Last, because courts do not submit all relevant opinions and orders to commercially available legal databases, the Commission checks individual court websites and adds any available cases from the fiscal year. This three-step method may not provide the Commission with all of the appellate sentencing decisions rendered in a fiscal year. The Commission's Appeals Database, therefore, may not report the universe of appellate decisions rendered in that fiscal year.</p><hr />