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Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 1998

ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 4:30 P.M.                  BJS
WEDNESDAY MAY 31, 2000                  202/307-0784                 



     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Approximately 73 percent of the 106,139
federal arrests made during fiscal year 1998 were made by Department
of Justice law enforcement agencies--the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Drug
Enforcement Agency and the Marshals Service--the Justice
Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. 
Treasury Department agencies made 11 percent of the arrests, while
other federal agencies, such as the Postal Service and the Defense,
Interior, and Agriculture Departments, accounted for the remainder.  
     BJS Director Jan Chaiken noted that this was the first time
federal arrest data had been compiled and published in a
comprehensive manner.  The report said 29 percent were arrested for
drug offenses and 20 percent for immigration law violations. 
     Highlights from the 1998 Compendium of Federal Justice
Statistics include:
     --The number of defendants prosecuted in federal courts rose
12.7 percent--from 69,351 in 1997 to 78,172 in 1998, principally
because of increases in drug law prosecutions (38 percent of the
increase) and immigration law violations (29 percent of the
increase).  Most (83 percent) were charged with felony offenses. 
     --Eighty-seven percent of those charged were convicted.  Of
those convicted, 94 percent pleaded guilty.
     --Seventy-one percent of those convicted were sentenced to
prison, up from 60 percent of those convicted in 1990.
     --The average prison sentence imposed on the 43,041 sentenced
to prison during 1998 was 58.8 months, down from the high of 62.6
months in 1992.  However, the length of time likely to be served in
prison is increasing, since 1990 the time actually served rose from
65 percent to 87 percent of the sentence imposed.  Offenders
convicted of violent felony offenses were sentenced to an average of
84.2 months of imprisonment during 1998, felony drug offenders to
78.8 months; immigration offenders to 26.4 months and property
offenders to 25.4 months. 
     --Forty-three percent of those charged with federal offenses
were freed while awaiting trial, down from 62 percent during 1990. 
Violent, drug, weapons and immigration offenders were among those
least likely to be released.  About 43 percent of weapons, 35
percent of drug, 32 percent of violent, and 8 percent of immigration
offenders were released while awaiting trial in 1998.
     --About 84 percent of those released while awaiting trial
completed their release without incident, while most (14.5 percent)
of those who violated the conditions of their release committed only
technical violations of their release, such as a failure to
participate in a substance abuse treatment program of any other
court-imposed condition.  Three percent committed new crimes and 2
percent failed to make for scheduled court appearances.  (Offenders
may have had more than one type of violation, so percentages add to
more than 100 percent.)
     --The number of offenders under federal correctional
supervision rose 42 percent between 1990 and 1998.  At the end of
fiscal year 1998, 201,693 people were under federal correctional
supervision, up from 141,790 at the end of 1990.
     --During fiscal year 1998, the number of men and women serving
a sentence in a federal prison surpassed 100,000 for the first time,
increasing by 9,670 over the 1997 population to 108,925.  The number
under community supervision (probation, parole and post-
incarceration supervision) was 92,768, two-thirds of whom were being
supervised following release from federal prison. 
     --Between 1990 and 1998, the number of appeals received by
U.S. Courts of Appeal remained relatively constant, between 10,000
and 11,000 annually.  Seventy-one percent of appeals filed during
1998 challenged the sentence imposed, at least in part.  
     --Of the 10,105 appeals terminated during 1998, 76 percent (or
7,699) were decided on the merits of the case.  The district court
decision were upheld, at least in part, in 82 percent of the
     Additional statistics describing the federal criminal justice
system may be obtained from the Federal Justice Statistics Resource
Center, located on the Internet at:
     The report,  Compendium of Federal Justice Statistics, 1998
(NCJ-180258) was prepared by the Urban Institute under a cooperative
agreement with the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  Excerpts may be
obtained from the BJS fax-on-demand system by dialing 301/519-5550,
listening to the complete menu and selecting document number 203. 
Or call the BJS clearinghouse at   1-800-732-3277.  Fax orders for
mail delivery to 410/492-4358.  The full report may be obtained from
the BJS Internet site at:
     Additional criminal justice materials can be obtained from the
Office of Justice Programs Website at:

After hours contact: Stu Smith at 301/983-9354
Date Published: May 31, 2000