The number of federal criminal cases increased in the last fiscal year, and sentences imposed in drug cases remained “relatively stable,” the U.S. Sentencing Commission says in its annual report.
Overall, there were 76,538 felony and serious misdemeanor cases, a rise of 7,113 from the previous year, and the second consecutive year with an increase.
Under President Donald Trump’s focus on immigration, those cases were the largest offense category, comprising 38.4 percent of the total. Cases involving drugs, firearms, and fraud were the next most common types of offenses. The four types accounted for 84.4 percent of federal cases.
Some 56.3 percent of accused 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 offenders.
Offenses involving methamphetamine were most common among drug cases, accounting for 42.2 percent of the total.
The average length of imprisonment in meth cases was unchanged from the previous fiscal year at 95 months, as was the average sentence in crack cocaine cases, 78 months.
The average sentence in powder cocaine cases dropped from 73 to 70 months, and increased in heroin cases(from 69 to 70 months. Sixty-five 65 percent of drug offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, compared to 58 percent the previous year.
The average length of sentences on immigration charges was much lower. Depending on the crime category, they ranged from about six to 14 months in prison.
Because the seven-member commission had five vacancies during fiscal year 2019, it lacked the minimum four votes needed to propose any amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines.
Trump nominated four people to the panel in 2018 but the Senate has not approved them.