Federal Sentencing in 2020
Today the U.S. Sentencing Commission published its 2020 Annual Report and Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics.
The Annual Report presents an overview of the Commission's work in FY20—a year that brought unique challenges and opportunities for technological advancement as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- COVID-19 significantly impacted how the Commission performs its daily work; however, sustained and strategic investments in technology, automation, and cybersecurity allowed for a quick pivot and continuity of operations culminating in this seasonable publication of the 2020 Sourcebook.
- The Commission’s website traffic increased by more than 20% for the second year in a row, demonstrating that interest in the Commission's work by sentencing courts, Congress, the Executive Branch, and the general public continues to increase.
- The Commission launched a new Interactive Data Analyzer--a tool for Congress, judges, litigants, the press, and the general public to easily and independently analyze sentencing data by their state, district or circuit, and refine their inquiry by a specific crime type or time period.
- COVID-19 forced the Commission to suspend all in-person training and seminars; however, the Commission’s ongoing investments in eLearning allowed its training efforts to continue unabated.
- The Commission collected, analyzed, and reported data on implementation of the First Step Act of 2018, and continued its recidivism research to help inform Congress and others on how best to protect public safety while targeting scarce prison resources on the most dangerous offenders.
FY20 Fast Facts
The Sourcebook presents information on the 64,565 federal offenders sentenced in FY20—a sentencing caseload that decreased by nearly 12,000 cases from the previous fiscal year.
- Immigration, drug trafficking, firearms, and fraud crimes together comprised 86% of the federal sentencing caseload in FY20.
- Immigration was the most common federal crime type sentenced, accounting for 41% of the caseload (up from 38% in FY19).
- Methamphetamine continued to be the most common drug type in the federal system, and a steadily growing portion of the drug caseload (up from 31% in FY16 and 42% in FY19 to 46% in FY20).
- Methamphetamine trafficking continued to be the most severely punished federal drug crime (holding steady at an average sentence of 95 months).
- Average sentences across all other major drug types (crack cocaine, powder cocaine, heroin, and marijuana) decreased.
- Two-thirds (67%) of drug offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, up slightly from the previous year (66%).
- Three-quarters (74%) of federal offenders were sentenced under the Guidelines Manual in FY20.