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Quiet Rebellion? Explaining Nearly A Decade Of Declining Federal Drug Sentences, Frank O. Bowman Iii, Michael Heise May 2001

Quiet Rebellion? Explaining Nearly A Decade Of Declining Federal Drug Sentences, Frank O. Bowman Iii, Michael Heise

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This is the first of two articles, the second of which will appear in January 2002 edition of the Iowa Law Review, in which we seek an explanation for the little-noticed and hitherto unexamined fact that the average length of prison sentences imposed in federal court for narcotics violations has been declining steadily since 1991-92.

According to figures maintained by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts, in the eight years between 1991 and 1999, the average federal drug sentence decreased from 95.7 months to 75.2 months, a drop of 22%, or nearly two years, per defendant ...


Quiet Rebellion? Explaining Nearly A Decade Of Declining Federal Drug Sentences With Michael Heise, Frank O. Bowman Iii, Michael Heise Apr 2001

Quiet Rebellion? Explaining Nearly A Decade Of Declining Federal Drug Sentences With Michael Heise, Frank O. Bowman Iii, Michael Heise

Faculty Publications

The Article begins with an examination of three primarily empirical questions. First, is the trend real? In other words, is the apparent decrease in federal drug sentences merely a species of statistical hiccup, a random fluctuation that could move easily and rapidly in the other direction? Or is the decline in average drug sentences large enough, and the trend prolonged enough, that we can safely conclude that something meaningful is occurring?