US Criminal Caseload Dropping: Report

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Photo by BBC World Service via Flickr

The US Sentencing Commission (USCC) quarterly report shows a decrease in the total number of federal criminal cases since 2016, despite a slight uptick in the last quarter which appears to be driven by immigration offenses.

Immigration and drug crimes topped the list of offenses in the U.S. in the quarter ending in March, the commission reported.

Tying for first place, these two offenses made up over 62% of federal criminal cases in the U.S. between October 2016 and March 2017, with firearms offenses a distant second at 11.8%, the USSC said in its latest quarterly report.

The data show a steady increase in sentences that are above primary sentencing guidelines, from 1.9% in 2012, to an average 2.8% so far this fiscal year, while sentences below guidelines fell slightly in the second quarter.

Among sentences that fell above guidelines, the median percent increase in simple drug possession cases was 100%, while trafficking was 39.1%; immigration-related sentences rose 53.3%; prison offenses received a 130% increase; and larceny 87.5%.

Demographics of top offenses:

  • Immigration (total 10, 164 cases): 8.7% U.S. citizens; 93.6% male; 1.8% white, 1.4% black, and 96.2% hispanic;
  • Drug trafficking (total 9,399): 72.9% U.S. citizens; 83.7% male; 22.3% white, 24% black, and 50.6% hispanic;
  • Simple possession (total 666): 34.2% U.S. citizens; 87.6% male; 12.8% white, 12.6% black, and 75.4% hispanic;
  • Firearms (total 3,856): 94.3% U.S. citizens; 96.8% male; 24.5% white,  51.4% black, and 21.1% hispanic;
  • Fraud (total 2,937): 82% U.S. citizens;70.4% male; 41,5% white, 29.7% black, and 22.5% hispanic;

Source: U.S. Sentencing Commission, Preliminary 2017 Datafile (Oct 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017)

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