New data just out from the U.S. Sentencing Commission seems to show a small but steady trend in federal criminal sentences away from the automatic imposition of the sentence recommended by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.
The Commission provides preliminary data on a quarterly basis. In the second quarter of fiscal year 2010 (which ended March 31, 2010), the Commission’s report indicated that in 54.7 percent of cases, the sentence was within the Guidelines range. In 26.5 percent of cases, the prosecution requested and obtained a below-range sentence, and in another 17 percent, the judge imposed a below-range sentence without a prosecutor’s request.
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