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December 2008

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


Sentencing Commission Issues Report on Federal Escape Offenses

Prompted by a suggestion in a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, United States v. Chambers, 473 F.3d 724 (7th Cir. 2007), cert. granted, __ U.S. __ , 128 S. Ct. 2046 (2008), the U.S. Sentencing Commission has undertaken a data analysis of federal prisoner escape cases to determine whether the crime of escape qualifies as a “violent felony” for sentencing purposes.

The Armed Career Criminal Act states that an offender convicted under its provisions who has three or more prior convictions for a “violent felony” or serious drug offense must be sentenced to at least 15 years in prison.

The Commission’s report—in 12 pages and two appendices—explains how it undertook an analysis of federal escape cases to determine what factors may indicate “conduct that presents a serious potential risk of injury to another” such that it qualifies as a violent felony.

Overall, of the 414 cases cited by the report, 14 cases involved use or the threat of force against any person either at the time of escape or attempted escape, at the time of apprehension for the escape, or both. Another 30 cases involved a weapon at some point in time. And 12 cases involved injury at some point.

The report is posted at www.ussc.gov/general/escape_FY0607_final.pdf.