Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

Data, statistics and information regarding mandatory minimum sentencing and sentencing guidelines

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."

Impact of Mandatory Minimum Penalties on the Federal Criminal Justice System

"[D]rug mandatory minimum penalties continue to have a significant impact on the sentencing of drug offenders and on the federal prison population. The data demonstrates that offenders convicted of an offense carrying a drug mandatory minimum penalty continue to receive longer sentences than offenders not convicted of an offense carrying a drug mandatory minimum. These longer sentences, coupled with the fact that drug offenses are the most common offenses carrying mandatory minimum penalties, considerably affect the prison population.

Sentencing Commission Recommendations to Congress on Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

"If Congress decides to exercise its power to direct sentencing policy by enacting mandatory minimum penalties, the Commission believes that such penalties should (1) not be excessively severe, (2) be narrowly tailored to apply only to those offenders who warrant such punishment, and (3) be applied consistently. Sentencing data and interviews with prosecutors and defense attorneys indicate that mandatory minimum penalties that are considered excessively severe tend to be applied inconsistently."

Federal Drug Offenders Sentenced in Fiscal Year 2015, by Drug Type

"Of the 20,115 drug offenders sentenced in fiscal year 2015, slightly less than one-half (47.9%) were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty.
"• Half (50.7%) of drug offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty remained subject to that penalty at sentencing.
"• The average sentence for drug offenders subject to a mandatory minimum penalty at sentencing was 124 months (with relief, 62 months) compared to 39 months for drug offenders not convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences in the Federal System FY2010, by Drug Type

"Approximately two-thirds (66.1%, n=15,831) of the 23,964 drug offenders in fiscal year 2010 were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty. More than one-quarter (28.1%, n=4,447) of drug offenses carrying a mandatory minimum penalty involved powder cocaine, followed by crack cocaine (24.7%, n=3,905), methamphetamine (21.9%, n=3,466), marijuana (17.2%, n=2,725), heroin (6.9%, n=1,098) and other drugs (1.1%, n=172). See Figure 8-1.

Powder Cocaine Offenders Facing Federal Mandatory Minimums FY2010, By Race/Ethnicity

Powder Cocaine Offenders Facing Federal Mandatory Minimums FY2010, By Race/Ethnicity: "More than half (54.9%, n=3,054) of all powder cocaine offenders were Hispanic. A similar proportion of Hispanic offenders were convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty (58.5%, n=2,595) and remained subject to a mandatory minimum penalty at the time of sentencing (55.2%, n=947).

Federal Defendants Convicted of Offenses Carrying a Mandatory Minimum Sentence, FY2015, by Offense Type

In Fiscal Year 2015, according to the US Sentencing Commission:
"In 22.2% of all cases, the offender was convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum penalty.
"• Drug trafficking offenses accounted for over two-thirds (66.2%) of the offenses carrying a mandatory minimum penalty, followed by firearms (15.4%) and child pornography offenses (8.8%).
"• Almost 40 percent (39.2%) of offenders convicted of an offense carrying a mandatory minimum were relieved of the mandatory minimum penalty because:

Reducing the Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity

Reducing the Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity: "On August 3, 2010, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 into law.1 This measure eliminated the five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence that previously adhered under federal law upon a conviction for possession of five grams or more of crack cocaine.2 The Act also increased the amount, in weight, of crack that must be implicated for either a five- or a ten-year mandatory minimum sentence to apply upon conviction of any of several federal drug trafficking crimes.3"

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