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State Court Sentencing of Convicted Felons, 1992

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 1996
68 pages
P. A. Langan; R. L. Cohen
Between 1988 and 1992, the volume of felony convictions in State courts rose by 34 percent; the greatest increases in the number of convictions were for aggravated assault (up 57 percent) and drug trafficking (up 53 percent).
The number of convictions for murder, rape, and robbery each rose about 39 percent. Despite relatively large increases in convictions, processing was not slower in 1992 than in 1988. In both years, the average elapsed time from arrest to sentencing was about 7 months. The proportion of felons sentenced to incarceration or probation in 1992 did not change from 1988. Prison sentences accounted for 44 percent of felony sentences in both years. In 1992, State courts convicted 894,000 persons of murder, rape, robbery, drug trafficking, and other felony offenses. Courts sentenced 44 percent to prison, 26 percent to jail (usually for a year or less), and 30 percent to probation. Drug traffickers (19 percent) and drug possessors (12 percent) comprised 31 percent of felons convicted in State courts, while violent offenders comprised 18 percent of felons convicted in State courts. State courts in the southern part of the United States sentenced 57 percent of convicted felons to prison, compared to 41 percent in State courts elsewhere. State courts sentenced an estimated 494,000 convicted felons to probation, and probation sentences averaged almost 4 years. The average age of convicted felons in 1992 was 30 years, 87 percent were men, 13 percent were women, 52 percent were white, 47 percent were black, and 1 percent were of other races. An estimated 75 percent of felons convicted by a jury received a prison sentence, compared to 48 percent of those convicted by a judge and 44 percent of those who pleaded guilty. Prison sentences were much longer for felons convicted by a jury trial (190 months) than for felons who were convicted by a judge (88 months) or who pleaded guilty (72 months). Detailed data are provided on felony sentences in State courts during 1992, and a profile of felons convicted in State courts is included. 50 tables and 7 figures

Date Created: December 28, 2009