Crack Reform is Helping!

Those closely following federal sentencing reform in crack cases are familiar with the acronyms FSA and SSA. Even though those pieces of legislation were designed to bring sentencing decrease sentences in crack cases, there was scant statistical support for that aspiration. Now, the proof’s in the pudding!

In Fiscal Year 2013, there were 22,215 people sentenced for drug trafficking offenses in federal courts, 13% (2,912) of whom were sentenced for trafficking in crack. Although this is a high number, it’s dropped precipitously from the 5,473 people sentenced in Fiscal Year 2009. Here’s the profile of the typical person sentenced for a crack offense in 2013: (1) 91% were males; (2) 83% were black; (3) average age was 33 years old; (4) 98% were US citizens; (5) 29% were scored in Criminal History Category VI and 20% were labeled as career offenders; (6) the median relevant conduct quantity was 28 to 112 grams; and (7) a weapon found its way into 29% of the cases.

Now for the pudding: (1) 98% of all crack traffickers were sent to prison; (2) the average guideline minimum decreased from 141 to 125 months; (3) the average sentence was 96 months, which is 17 months below the average imposed in 2008; (4) 62% of all crack traffickers were convicted of an offense triggering a mandatory minimum sentence; and (5) the rate of sentencing within the guideline range fell from 49% in 2009 to 43% in 2013.