Assessing the impact of Supreme Court decisions on federal sentencing, this congressional report provides a history of federal sentencing guidelines, statistical analyses of federal sentencing data, and recommendations for strengthening the guideline system.
- The number of federal offenders has substantially increased, and most have continued to receive substantial sentences of imprisonment.
- Unwarranted disparities are increasing, and demographic characteristics (such as race, gender, and citizenship) are now more strongly correlated with sentencing outcomes than previously.
- Sentencing outcomes also increasingly depend upon the district in which the defendent is sentenced, prosecutorial practices, and the judge to whom the case is assigned.
- Black male offenders received 19.5 percent longer sentences than white male offenders from 2007 to 2011. There was no statistically significant difference in sentence length for Hispanic male offenders and "other race" male offenders compared to white male offenders.
- From 2003 to 2011, black male offenders were over 20 percent less likely than white male offenders to receive sentences that were below the bottom of the guideline range. Hispanic male offenders were also less likely to receive a non-government sponsored below range sentence.