Drug Cases Lead Federal Offenses, Sentencing Panel Says

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Drug cases accounted for the largest single group of federal offenses in fiscal year 2016, comprising 31.6 percent of all reported cases, the United States Sentencing Commission says in its annual report. Cases involving immigration, firearms, and fraud were the next most common types of offenses after drug cases. Together these four types of offenses accounted for 81.6 percent of all cases reported.

The total number of federal criminal cases dropped last year by 3,261 to 67,742, the commission said. The race of offenders was largely unchanged, with 53.3 percent of all offenders were Hispanic, 22.3 percent white, 20.4 percent black, and 4.0 percent of another race. Non-U.S. citizens accounted for 41.7 percent of all offenders. Among drug cases, offenses involving methamphetamine were most common, accounting for 30.8 percent of cases. Drug sentences remained relatively stable across all drug types. The average length of imprisonment increased slightly from fiscal 2015 in cases involving methamphetamines, from 87 months to 90 months, but decreased in marijuana cases, from 32 months to 28 months. In fiscal 2016, 44.5 percent of drug offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, compared to 62.2 percent of drug offenders in fiscal year 2013 – the year that the U.S. Attorney General directed all U. S. Attorneys to change their sentencing practices.

 

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