Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Federal judges in Seattle region hand out lighter sentences

Federal judges in Seattle region hand out lighter sentences, Seattle P-I, Dec. 10, 2007:

Federal judges in Western Washington give lighter sentences than guidelines call for at 10 times the national rate. About one in five defendants get a break. Only Arizona exceeded Seattle's record, and that is likely a statistical aberration explained by the handling of deportations of illegal aliens.The average defendant convicted of a crack cocaine offense nationally in 2006 got just over 10 years in prison, according to U.S. Sentencing Commission statistics. In Seattle, crack defendants got an average of seven years.
The article discusses the practices of the U.S. Attorney's Office which, in its discretion, often does not prosecute the highest possible charges (possibly contrary to Justice Department policy). But this U.S. Attorney's Office has a heavier caseload that many, because it charges all players in drug conspiracy cases, not just the few at the top.

The article quotes Federal Public Defender Tom Hillier, who is also a UW Trial Ad instructor.

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