The data is out for 2021 and for the first time there were more federal drug convictions than immigration offenses. There were also many more sex offense cases than ever before, and (unsurprisingly) a bigger crackdown on gun crimes. Here`s how the numbers break down from the recent report from the U.S. Sentencing Commission (USSC).
Total number of cases:
Overall, there were 57,377 federal criminal convictions in 2021. This was the lowest number of convictions since 1999, and 33.5% below the peak number of federal convictions reached in 2014.
The most common offenses:
The most common offenses were drug trafficking, firearms, and fraud/theft/embezzlement. Combined with immigration, these offenses made up 83.1% of all federal criminal cases.
A closer look at federal drug convictions:
Drug offenses surpassed immigration offenses for the first time in 2021, making up 31.3% of the total number of convictions in the federal courts.
While drug possession cases continued to decline for the last 5 years, drug trafficking convictions rose 7.4% since 2020.
Over two-thirds (67.7%) of drug trafficking cases required the court to impose a mandatory minimum sentence.
Methamphetamine continued to be the most common drug type involved in these cases, but fentanyl cases jumped 45.2% from 2020 and were the fourth most common drug type.
Source: U.S. Sentencing Commission`s website (click here)
Dale Chappell is the author of hundreds of published articles on the federal criminal justice system, and the Insider`s Guide series of federal post-conviction books. He is a consultant in federal post-conviction procedure and an authority on federal sex offense issues.