State court processing of felony cases seems to be taking longer, figures compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) indicate. The agency’s new “Felony Sentences in State Courts” report says the average interval between arrest and sentencing for those convicted of felonies was 184 days, or about six months, in 2002. A similar survey found the interval in 2000 153 days, about five months. Violent offenses are taking comparably longer: an aveager of 2`18 days in 2002 compared with 186 in 2000. The numbers are not strictly comparable because the 2002 data came from a survey of 300 countes; the 2000 data were recorded in 344.
The average sentence length for felons sent to state prisons dropped from six to four and one-half years between 1994 and 2002, the report says. At the same time that sentences were becoming a bit shorter, the percent of time served was getting longer. BJS estimated that felons sentenced in 2002 would serve about 2 and one-quarter years, 51 percent of their average sentence. By contrast, those sentenced in 1994 served about 38 percent of their six-year terms, also about 2 and one-quarter years.