Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mandatory Minimums and Unintended Consequences-Sentencing Commission Data

On July 10, 2009, the United States Sentencing Commission provided a statistical overview of statutory mandatory minimum sentencing using fiscal year 2008 data to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security in light of its July 14, 2009 hearing entitled "Mandatory Minimums and Unintended Consequences."

Here is a highlight from the report:
In the Commission’s fiscal year 2008 datafile, there were 31,239 counts of conviction that carried a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. Because an offender may be sentenced for multiple counts of conviction that carry mandatory minimum penalties, these 31,239 counts of conviction exceed the total number of offenders (21,023 offenders, as reported below) who were convicted of statutes carrying such penalties.
Of these 31,239 counts of conviction, the overwhelming majority (90.7%) were
for drug offenses (24,789 counts of conviction, or 79.4%) and firearms offenses (3,527 counts of conviction, or 11.3%). Most of the 171 mandatory minimum provisions rarely,if ever, were used in fiscal year 2008, with 68 such provisions not used at all.

Even more interesting is the race/ethnicity data with regards to mandatory minimum sentences:
[O]f offenders sentenced in fiscal year 2008 for which the relevant sentencing documentation was received to determine race or ethnicity, nonwhite offenders comprised 74.0 percent of offenders convicted of a statute carrying a statutory mandatory minimum penalty. This is slightly higher than the percentage of nonwhite offenders in the Commission’s overall fiscal year 2008 datafile, which was 70.2 percent. Black offenders are the only racial/ethnic group that comprised a greater percentage of offenders convicted of a statute carrying a mandatory minimum penalty (35.7%) than their percentage in the overall fiscal year 2008 offender population (24.0%).

No comments: