The U.S. Sentencing Commission has a tool on its website, titled Judiciary Sentencing Information, here. The web page explains:
What is the Judiciary Sentencing Information (JSIN) platform?
The Judiciary Sentencing Information (JSIN) platform is an online sentencing data resource specifically developed with the needs of judges in mind. The platform provides quick and easy online access to sentencing data for similarly-situated defendants. JSIN expands upon the Commission’s longstanding practice of providing sentencing data at the request of federal judges by making some of the data provided through these special requests more broadly and easily available. If the court does consider the sentencing information provided by JSIN as part of its consideration of the factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) when imposing sentence, it should do so only after considering the properly calculated guideline range and any applicable departures provided for in the Guidelines Manual.
The page offers a link to the tool, here, and “Frequently Asked Questions” about the tool.
Since the tool is for judges, with a presumption that some judges will use it and may have sentencing decisions influenced by it, prosecution and defense counsel should be familiar with how it works.
The Sentencing Law and Policy Blog has herea good post (with further links) titled “Sentencing Commission Data Tool Is Deeply Flawed” (quotation marks in the title, to indicate that it is reporting on a Law360 article (paywall). The SLP Blog quotes the Law 360 article by Michael Yaeger extensively, so access to the Law360 article may not be required for some useful information. It is interesting that the illustrative example Yaeger offers for his concerns about the limitations of the tool is a tax example as follows:
When JSIN is queried for stats on the position of the sentencing table for U.S. Sentencing Commission Section 2T1.1 — tax evasion, offense level 17 and criminal history I — JSIN reports the median sentence as 18 months. But when one uses the commission’s full dataset to calculate the median on that same cohort (Section 2T1.1, level 17, history I, no 5K1.1) and includes sentences of probation, the median is significantly lower. Instead of JSIN’s 18 months, the median is just 12 months. That’s a whole six months lower — and a 33% decrease….
Yeager then is quoted as concluding:
[B]y conducting a more complete study of the Sentencing Commission’s data than the JSIN provides, the defense could also examine particular aspects of a guidelines calculation, such as loss or drug weight. The defense could strip out mandatory minimum sentences or do an analysis of 10 or 15 years of cases, not just five. They could also break down cases by circuit or district, not just nationally. Now that JSIN is available, defense attorneys should consider all the above. It was already a good idea to use accurate and complete data analysis of similarly situated defendants. But now the need has increased. The defense now has to counter JSIN and the false impression it creates.
Using the example Yaeger chose (tax offense level 17 and criminal history of 1), here are snapshots of the information offered (I repeat the explanation portion of each draft immediately below it for easier readability: