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BJS U.S. Department of Justice
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Office of Justice Programs seal

Federal Justice Statistics

Summary findings | About the data collection | BJS publications | Related sites

Get online tabulations of Federal data and download datasets from the Federal Justice Statistics Resource Center.


Summary findings

Prosecution

  • U.S. attorneys opened matters for investigation against 123,559 suspects during 2000. The number of investigations initiated by U.S. attorney increased 5% over 1999. Forty percent were investigated for public-order offenses such as regulatory (5%), immigration (13%) and weapons (7%) offenses; a third (32%) were investigated for drug offenses; 23% for property offenses; and 5% for violent offenses such as murder, rape, assault, and robbery.

  • Of the 117,450 suspects in matters concluded during 2000, 74% were referred for prosecution either before a U.S. district court judge (62%) or a U.S. magistrate (12%). Nearly all (97%) of those investigated for immigration offenses were referred for prosecution.

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Pretrial

  • Less than half (46%) of defendants charged with a Federal offense were released following the initial court appearance, provided that any court-imposed conditions were satisfied. Three-quarters were released on their own recognizance or an unsecured bond; 18% were eligible for release on bail; and 6% were released under restrictive conditions such as third-party supervision or home detention.

  • Fifty-two percent of those charged had a pretrial detention hearing; three-quarters of those with a hearing held were ordered detained.

  • Most (82%) of defendants released prior to trial completed their pretrial release without violating the release conditions; 7% had their release revoked. Defendants charged with violent or drug offenses were less likely to complete release without a violation (77% and 72%, respectively) than other defendants.

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Adjudication

  • During 2000, criminal cases were commenced against 83,251 defendants in U.S. district court. Most (85%) were charged with a felony offense. Forty-one percent of felony defendants were charged with a drug offense; 28% were charged with a public-order offense -- including 15% with an immigration offense, 7% with a weapons offense, and 18% with a property offense.

  • Cases were terminated against 76,952 defendants during 2000. Most (89%) defendants were convicted. Of the 68,156 defendants convicted, 64,558 (or 95%) pleaded guilty or no-contest.

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Sentencing

  • Of the 68,156 defendants convicted and sentenced during 2000, 74% were sentenced to a term of imprisonment (either alone or in conjunction with probation), 18% were sentenced to probation (either alone or with incarceration), and 4% were sentenced to pay a fine alone.

  • The average prison sentence imposed during 2000 was 57 months. Defendants convicted of weapons felonies (92 months), violent felonies (87 months), and drug felonies (76 months) received the longest prison terms, on average.

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Criminal appeals

  • During 2000, 9,162 appeals of criminal cases were filed with the U.S. Courts of Appeal. Almost three-quarters (6,693) of these cases challenged the sentence imposed, at least in part.

  • Of the 10,580 appeals terminated during 2000, 76% were terminated on the on the merits of the case; 24% were procedural terminations by the courts.

  • Of the 7,996 appeals terminated on their merits, the appellate courts affirmed, or upheld, the district courts' decisions, at least in part, in 82% of the cases.

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Corrections

  • During 2000 the Federal Bureau of Prisons received 49,678 inmates from U.S. district courts; an additional 15,240 inmates were received from other sources such as supervision violations; 55,876 inmates were released. As of September 30, 2000, 129,329 sentenced offenders were under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

  • Offenders entering Federal prison during 2000 could expect to serve about 87% of the sentence imposed compared to 65% for those who entered during 1990.

  • During 2000, 99,264 offenders convicted of a Federal offense were on community supervision. Almost two-thirds were serving a term of supervised release; 31% were serving a term of probation; and 5% were serving a term of parole on a sentence that was not imposed pursuant to the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984.

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Juveniles

During 1995 --

  • 468 juveniles were referred to Federal prosecutors for investigation - 49% of these cases were declined for further action.

  • 122 juveniles were adjudicated as delinquent in the Federal courts - 47% for either a violent or drug offense.

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Noncitizens

  • Between 1984 and 1994, the number of noncitizens serving a sentence of imprisonment in a Federal prison increased an average of 15% annually - from 4,088 to 18,929; the overall Federal prison population, by contrast, increased an average 10% annually -- from 31,105 to 87,437.

  • 55% of the noncitizens prosecuted in Federal court during 1994 were in the United States legally.

  • During 1994 about 45% of noncitizens prosecuted in Federal court were charged with a drug offense.

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Federal justice system data collection

Federal Justice Statistics Program (FJSP) provides annual data on workload, activities, and outcomes associated with Federal criminal cases. Information is acquired on all aspects of processing in the Federal justice system, including the number of persons investigated, prosecuted, convicted, incarcerated, sentenced to probation, released pretrial, and under parole or other supervision; initial prosecution decisions, referrals to magistrates, court dispositions, sentencing outcomes, sentence length, and time served. The program collects data from the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, the Pretrial Services Agency, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Ongoing starting 1979.

Federal Justice Statistics Resource Center
   (Online tabulations, datasets & codebooks)

Data on CD-ROM


BJS publications

This list is in order of the most recent publication first. Additional titles are listed on other topical pages and a comprehensive list is contained on the BJS publications page. To see a full abstract of a publication with links to electronic versions of the publication, click on the title below.

Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 2000, 8/02. Describes all aspects of processing in the Federal justice system, including numbers of persons prosecuted, convicted, incarcerated, sentenced to probation, released pretrial, and under parole or other supervision. NCJ 194067

Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 1999, 4/01. NCJ 186179
Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 1998, 5/00. NCJ 180258
Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 1997, 10/99. NCJ 176328
Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 1996, 1/99. NCJ 172849
Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 1995, 3/98. NCJ 164259
Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 1994, 3/98. NCJ 163063
Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 1993, 10/96. NCJ 160089

Immigration Offenders in the Federal Criminal Justice System, 2000, 08/02. Describes the number of immigration offenders prosecuted in Federal court between 1985 and 2000. NCJ 191745

Prisoner Petitions filed in U.S. District Courts, 2000, with Trends 1980-2000, 12/01. Presents the number of prisoner petitions filed by Federal and State inmates in U.S. district courts during 2000. NCJ 189430

Other publication on this topic:
Prisoner Petitions in the Federal Courts, 1980-96, 10/97. NCJ 164615

Federal Criminal Case Processing, 2000: With trends 1982-2000, Reconciled Data, 11/01. An annual publication that provides statistics describing defendants processed at different stages of the Federal criminal justice system for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2000. NCJ 189737

Federal Criminal Case Processing, 1999: With trends 1982-99, Reconciled Data, 2/01. NCJ 186180
Federal Criminal Case Processing, 1998: With Trends 1982-98, Reconciled Data, 9/99. NCJ 169277

Federal Drug Offenders, 1999 with Trends 1984-99, 8/01. Describes offenders investigated for and charged with Federal drug offenses during 1999 and trends in drug prosecutions from 1984 to 1999. NCJ 187285

Federal Criminal Appeals, 1999, with Trends 1985-99, 4/01. Describes the increase in the appellate caseload as a result of challenges to the sentence imposed. NCJ 185055

Defense Counsel in Criminal Cases, 11/00. Examines issues of legal representation for defendants in Federal district court and large local jurisdictions, and inmates in local jails and Federal and State prison. NCJ 179023

Offenders Returning to Federal Prison, 1986-97, 9/00. Describes offenders returning to Federal prison within 3 years of release and their time served upon return. NCJ 182991

Federal Firearm Offenders 1992-98: With Preliminary Data for 1999, 6/00. Describes trends associated with the prosecution of firearm offenders in U.S. district courts between 1992 and 1999. NCJ 180795

Civil Rights Complaints in U.S. District Courts, 1990-98, 1/00 Presents findings about civil rights cases in U.S. district courts that dealt with employment, housing, welfare, voting, or other civil rights issues between 1990 and 1998. NCJ 173427

Federal Enforcement of Environmental Laws, 1997, 11/99. Provides data on defendants charged in 1997 with criminal or civil violation of Federal law protecting the environment from excessive and unnecessary discharge of hazardous substances and other pollutants or law protecting and conserving the Nation's natural resources and wildlife. NCJ 175686

Reconciling Federal Criminal Case Processing: A Federal Justice Statistics Program Methodology Report, 9/99. Summarizes the technical work underlying the conclusions of the Interagency Working Group on Federal Criminal Case Processing Statistics. NCJ 171680

Time Served in Prison by Federal Offenders, 1986-97, 6/99. Describes changes in sentences imposed and time served brought about by the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 by cohorts of offenders entering and exiting Federal prison between 1986 and 1997. NCJ 171682

Federal Tort Trials and Verdicts, 1996-97, 3/99. Presents findings about 1996 and 1997 civil tort cases terminated in United States district courts by jury and bench trial. NCJ 172855

Federal Tort Trials and Verdict, 1994-95, 12/97 NCJ 165810

Federal Pretrial Release and Detention, 1996, 2/99. Describes pretrial release and detention practices in the Federal criminal justice system. NCJ 168635

Federal Offenders under Community Supervision, 1987-96 9/98. Describes trends in the composition of offenders under Federal supervision between 1987 and 1996 since the implementation of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984, which took effect on November 1, 1987. NCJ 168636

Comparing Case Processing Statistics, Second edition, 4/98. Identifies the primary differences in case processing statistics reported by the agencies and explains why the reported statistics are not directly comparable. NCJ 169274

Comparing Case Processing Statistics, 8/96. NCJ 161133

Prisoner Petitions in the Federal Courts, 1980-96, 10/97.Describes the increase in petitions filed in Federal courts (both U.S. district and U.S. appellate) by Federal and State inmates from 1980 to 1995, as well as the high dismissal rate and the low success rate. NCJ 164615

Juvenile Delinquents in the Federal Criminal Justice System, 2/97. Describes juvenile offenders processed in the Federal criminal justice system, including the number of juveniles charged with acts of delinquency, the offenses for which they were charged, the proportion adjudicated delinquent, and the sanctions imposed. NCJ 163066

Noncitizens in the Federal Criminal Justice System, 1984-94, 8/96. Describes noncitizens processed in the Federal justice system, including the number prosecuted and incarcerated from 1984 to 1994, the offenses for which they were prosecuted, and the sanctions imposed. NCJ 160934

Federal Criminal Case Processing, 1982-93, with Preliminary Data for 1994, 5/96. The sixth annual report in the BJS series presents data describing Federal criminal case prosecution, adjudication, and sentencing, as well as time served by Federal offenders. NCJ 160088

Federal Firearms-Related Offenses: Federal Offenses and Offenders, 7/95. Notes the association between firearms involvement and an increased severity of sentence as well as a more extensive criminal history for Federal prisoners. NCJ 148950

Federal Criminal Case Processing, 1982-91, with Preliminary Data for 1992, 11/93. The fifth annual report in the BJS series, presents data describing Federal criminal case prosecution, adjudication, and sentencing, as well as time served by Federal offenders. NCJ 144526

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Related sites

From BJS

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[...]

Page last revised on August 21, 2002


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