Where Have the Career Criminals Gone?

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They may possess a lengthy criminal history, but armed career criminals comprise a small portion of the federal criminal caseload, representing less than 1 percent of the caseload, and their numbers are decreasing, according to a new report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

During the ten-year study period, the number of armed career criminals decreased by almost half, from 590 in fiscal year 2010 to 312 in fiscal year 2019.

When comparing the federal districts, the highest percentage of armed career criminals come from the middle district of Florida. The other four districts showing the greatest number of these criminals were South  Carolina, the Western district of Tennessee, the southern district of Florida, and the northern district of Alabama.

According to the report, 73 percent of the armed career criminals were Black, 15 percent were white, and 9 percent were Hispanic.

The overwhelming majority (85 percent) of armed career criminals had at least one prior conviction. The most common was a public-order offense; the second most common was drug trafficking.

The overwhelming majority of the armed career criminals had prior convictions for violent offenses. In fiscal year 2019, 84 percent of armed career criminals had prior convictions for violent offenses, including 58 percent who had three or more such convictions.

More than half (59 percent) of armed career criminals released between 2009 and 2011 were rearrested within the eight-year follow-up period.

Recidivism rates of armed career criminals varied depending on whether they had prior convictions for violent offenses and the number of such prior convictions.  More than half (55 percent) of armed career criminals with both prior violent and drug trafficking convictions were rearrested within the eight-year follow-up period.

The full report can be read here.

Nancy Bilyeau is deputy editor of The Crime Report.

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