sentencing guidelines

Drug mandatory minimum penalties appear to provide a significant incentive to provide substantial assistance to the government

"• In fiscal year 2016, offenders convicted of an offense carrying a drug mandatory minimum penalty were nearly twice as likely to have provided substantial assistance to the government as those not convicted of such an offense (29.8% compared to 15.2%).

Statutory relief results in significantly reduced sentences when applied

"• More than half (51.6%) of offenders convicted of an offense carrying a drug mandatory minimum penalty received relief at sentencing.
"• In fiscal year 2016, 21.8 percent of offenders convicted of a drug mandatory minimum penalty qualified for relief under the safety valve, 21.5 percent received relief for providing substantial assistance, and 8.2 percent received relief for both safety valve and substantial assistance.

Drug mandatory minimum penalties applied more broadly than Congress admitted

"• While some legislative history leading up to passage of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 suggests that “major” traffickers would be subject to the ten-year drug mandatory minimum penalty and “serious” traffickers would be subject to the five-year penalty, they often apply to offenders who perform relatively low level functions. For example, nearly one-third (32.2%) of Couriers and more than one-quarter of Mules (25.4%) were convicted of such offenses.

Convictions for drug offenses with mandatory minimums were more serious in 2016 than 2010

"Convictions for offenses carrying a drug mandatory minimum penalty were more likely to involve the use of a weapon, as evidenced by the application of a guideline enhancement for having a weapon involved in the offense (17.4% in fiscal year 2016 compared to 12.5% in fiscal year 2010) or a conviction for a firearms offense carrying a mandatory minimum (5.4% in fiscal year 2016 compared to 5.1% in fiscal year 2010).

Number and percentage of offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum has decreased since 2010

"• Less than half (44.7%) of all drug offenders sentenced in fiscal year 2016 were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, which was a significant decrease from fiscal year 2010 when approximately two-thirds (66.1%) of drug offenders were convicted of such an offense. In fact, the number of offenders convicted of a drug mandatory minimum penalty has decreased by 44.7 percent since fiscal year 2010, falling from 15,831 offenders to 8,760 such offenders in fiscal year 2016.

Mandatory minimum penalties continue to have a significant impact on the size and composition of the federal prison population

"• As of September 30, 2016, 49.1 percent of federal inmates were drug offenders.
"• Among drug offenders in federal prison as of September 30, 2016, almost three-quarters (72.3%) were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, and more than half (50.4%) remained subject to that penalty at sentencing."

Drug mandatory minimum penalties continue to result in long sentences in the federal system

"• In fiscal year 2016, over half (52.8%) of offenders convicted of an offense carrying a drug mandatory minimum penalty faced a mandatory minimum penalty of ten years or greater.
"• In fiscal year 2016, the average sentence for offenders who were convicted of an offense carrying a drug mandatory minimum penalty was 94 months of imprisonment, more than double the average sentence (42 months) for drug offenders not convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty.

Number of Federal Cases Reported to US Sentencing Commission by Type, FY2012

"For the last four years, immigration cases have been the largest single type of federal offenses. This trend continued in fiscal year 2012, where immigration cases accounted for 32.2 percent of all federal cases, despite a decrease of 3,169 cases in the total number of immigration cases reported to the Commission. This decrease is the first since fiscal year 2006 and represents a 10.7 percent decrease in this type of case from the prior fiscal year.

Average Sentence Length Under Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws, Fiscal Year 2015

"The average sentence length of offenders who remained subject to a mandatory minimum penalty at sentencing was 138 months, over twice the average sentence of offenders receiving relief from such a penalty (66 months). The average sentence for offenders not convicted of any offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty was 28 months."

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