Wide Variations Seen in Federal Sentencing
(05 Mar 2012) An analysis of all criminal cases completed in the federal courts during the last five years has discovered extensive and hard-to-explain variations in the sentencing practices of district court judges working in many different districts. This key finding is based upon the first ever review of the sentences imposed by 885 judges in more than 370,000 cases decided during the period from FY 2007 to FY 2011. These data were compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

Because the report examines differences in sentencing practices within individual districts where judges presumably receive the same general mix of cases, this finding raises questions about the extent to which sentences in some districts are influenced by the particular judge who sentenced the defendant rather than just the facts of that case. The report is available at:
Accompanying the report are the names of each federal district court judge covered in this report, along with the number of defendants each sentenced during this period. While each judge sentenced on average 420 defendants, the judge-by-judge listing reveals that some judges -- particularly those in districts along the southwest border -- handled many more, up to 6,331 cases. See:
All the above is available on TRAC's public site. Much more detailed information on individual judges, including a new interactive judge tool which provides the ability to analyze any particular judge's sentencing and processing time records, is available by subscription. See for details.

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