A new study by the United States Sentencing Commission found that 72.8 of federal offenders had been previously convicted, mainly for public order offenses and violent offenses.
Most individuals sitting in federal prison have offended before, according to a report released by the United States Sentencing Commission (USCC).
The USCC, in its first-ever compilation of convictions of all federal offenders sentenced in a fiscal year, found that 72.8 percent of those sentenced in fiscal year 2016 had been convicted of a prior offense. The average number of previous convictions was 6.1 among offenders with criminal history.
The report, titled “The Criminal History of Federal Offenders,” found the most common prior offenses were public order offenses (43.7 percent) and violent offenses (39.5 percent).
Details on previous offenses and a defendant’s criminal history are critical to judges’ sentencing decisions, said the report.
Congress codified this approach with the passage of the Sentencing Reform Act (SRA) of 1984, which was created to ensure consistency during federal sentencing. The act requires federal courts to consider the history and characteristics of the defendant when imposing a sentence.
The code provides guidelines, or a point system, to help in sentencing.
According to the study, of the violent offenders, assault was the most common charge, (29.5 percent), followed by robbery, (8.1 percent), and rape (4.4 percent).
Just under two percent of offenders with criminal history had a prior homicide offense.
Significantly, the data also showed most firearm offenders, 91.7 percent, had at least one previous conviction compared to about half of those convicted of fraud (52.4 percent), and child pornography (48.2 percent).
Firearms offenders were most likely to have violence in their criminal histories: 62 percent of firearms offenders with a previous conviction had a violent previous conviction.
A full copy of the report can be found here.