Winning Lower Sentences Over the Last 10 Years. Why?

Our Federal Sentencing Statistical Analysis Report is a tangible link between our clients and similarly situated defendants. The data, which analyzes guidelines, specific offense characteristics, statutes, enhancements, and departures, works because it gives judges verifiable evidence of the universe of sentences  judges have given defendants based on the above factors. With Booker making the guidelines advisory, sentencing judges are able to more accurately focus on Title 18 U.S.C. § 3553’s mandate to “avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct.” Our reports offer a unique insight into those sentencings that is not otherwise available on the USSC website.

Title 18 U.S.C. §3553(a)(6) directs that the “need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct” be considered when imposing sentence. To this end, using a data collection maintained by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives (NCIA) offers a Federal Sentencing Statistical Analysis (FSSA) report in order to determine how defendants similar to our clients were sentenced in federal courts across the country. The FSSA report offers a unique picture of our clients compared to similarly situated defendants. The data provides actual evidence of how cases are sentenced and not subjective opinions on how cases should be sentenced (according to statute or other factors). NCIA data differs from the information available on the USSC website in that we are able to analyze guidelines, specific offense characteristics, and statutes, individually, as a group, nationwide, and at the district level. In addition, we analyze sentencing over several years and not just one year at a time. Furthermore, we provide detailed information about unique cases (i.e., same statutes, offense levels, departures, and enhancements) that are not available in the analyses on the USSC website.


By Megan Hill