Recently Published Report Provides Key Information Regarding Recidivism of Released Federal Drug Trafficking Offenders


By Alex Jimenez 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Sentencing Commission released a detailed report this week highlighting the characteristics and circumstances in which federal drug trafficking offenders are likely to reoffend upon release, and age and criminal history were among the key factors.

The study looked at 13,783 drug trafficking offenders, who were released in 2010, pulling in data for that year and including an eight-year follow up.

“The analysis provides an opportunity to examine recidivism in the context of major changes in federal sentencing and supervision,” stated the commission’s report.

The report also compared the 2010 rearrest rate to those released in 2005 finding a similar rate despite changes in the criminal justice system—noting the Supreme Court’s decision in Booker, the increased use of evidence-based practices in federal supervision, and adjustments on sentencing for crack cocaine offenses.

According to the U.S. States Sentencing Commission, the rearrest rate for drug trafficking offenders came out to be (47.9 percent) compared to all other offenders released in 2010 (50.4 percent). The median time in which reoffending drug traffickers were arrested for the first time was 23 months compared to 16 months for all other offenders.

The report noted those that trafficked crack cocaine were found to have the highest rearrest rate at (57.8 percent) while powder cocaine traffickers exhibited the lowest rearrest rate (41.8 percent). The rearrest rate for other primary drug types ranged between 42.7 percent to 46.7 percent.

Of those rearrested drug traffickers, about (32 percent) had drug related arrest as their most serious new charge while (19.9 percent) were charged with assault when rearrested, said the report, which included drug trafficking, drug possession, or any other drug offense when considering drug related arrests.

The data pertaining to criminal history stood out with a strong correlation with rearrest. The rearrest rate ranged from 29.9 percent for offenders with “zero criminal history points” to 79.9 percent for offenders with 13 or more criminal history points, the study revealed.

Age was also strongly correlated with the likelihood of rearrest where “drug trafficking offenders released prior to age 21 had the highest rearrest rate of 70.1 percent,” said the report, adding that only 16.4 percent of drug traffickers who were 60 years of age or older when released were rearrested.

An eight-year follow up period of the 2010 group found that 47.9 percent were rearrested compared to 50.0 percent of drug trafficking offenders from 2005.

This analysis is a part of a comprehensive research effort by the U.S. States Sentencing Commission of the recidivism of federal offenders.


About The Author

Alex Jimenez is a 4th year politcal science major at the University of Calfornia, Berkeley. He has future aspirations to attend law school and is from Pleasanton, Ca.

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