Published on: Thursday, March 26, 2020

On March 23, 2020, the United States Sentencing Commission published its 2019 Annual Report and 2019 Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics.  The Annual Report presents an overview of the Commission’s work in FY 2019 (October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019).  The Sourcebook provides statistical information on the 76,538 federal offenders sentenced in FY 2019. It contains descriptive statistics on the application of the federal sentencing guidelines and provides selected district, circuit, and national sentencing data.  In short, the Sourcebook can help you argue for the best possible sentence for your client. 

Here are some highlights from the Annual Report:

  • In fiscal year 2019, the courts reported 76,538 felony and Class A misdemeanor cases to the Commission. This represents an increase of 7,113 cases from the prior fiscal year, and the second consecutive year with an increase.
  • The race of federal offenders remained largely unchanged from prior years. In fiscal year 2019, 56.3 percent of all offenders were Hispanic, 20.2 percent were Black, 19.9 percent were White, and 3.6 percent were of another race. Non-U.S. citizens accounted for 44.6 percent of all offenders.
  • Immigration cases accounted for the largest single group of offenses in fiscal year 2019, comprising 38.4 percent of all reported cases. Cases involving drugs, firearms, and fraud were the next most common types of offenses after immigration cases. Together these four types of offenses accounted for 84.4 percent of all cases reported to the Commission in fiscal year 2019.
  • Among drug cases, offenses involving methamphetamine were most common, accounting for 42.2 percent of all drug cases.
  • Drug sentences remained relatively stable across all drug types in fiscal year 2019. The average length of imprisonment in methamphetamine cases was unchanged from fiscal year 2018 at 95 months, as was the average sentence in crack cocaine cases (78 months), but decreased in powder cocaine cases (from 73 to 70 months), and increased in heroin cases (from 69 to 70 months). In fiscal year 2019, 65.0 percent of drug offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, compared to 58.0 percent of drug offenders in fiscal year 2018.
  • In fiscal year 2019, 75.0 percent of all offenders received sentences under the Guidelines Manual, in that the sentence was within the applicable guidelines range, or was outside the applicable guidelines range and the court cited a departure reason from the Guidelines Manual. Just over half (51.4%) of all sentences were within the guidelines range, compared to 51.0 percent in fiscal year 2018

The Training Divsion provides sentencing resources that will help you argue for the best sentence possible for your clients.