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Federal And State Offenders Highly Mobile-30 To 60 Percent Had Convictions In Multiple States
by Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.
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Federal offenders seem to be highly mobile. If we include arrests and prosecutions along with convictions, the percentages from other states would be much higher.

For sentenced federal offenders, some had prior out of state convictions of well over 50 percent.

Immigration offenders were the most likely to have convictions in more than one state (38.7%).


Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr.

Retired federal senior spokesperson. Thirty-five years of award-winning public relations for national and state criminal justice agencies. Interviewed multiple times by every national news outlet. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Former Director of Information Services, National Crime Prevention Council. Former Adjunct Associate Professor of criminology and public affairs-University of Maryland, University College. Former advisor to presidential and gubernatorial campaigns. Former advisor to the “McGruff-Take a Bite Out of Crime” national media campaign. Certificate of Advanced Study-Johns Hopkins University. Aspiring drummer.


We always wonder whether the offenders we come into contact with have arrests or convictions in other states.

It’s not as straightforward as some think. The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) through the FBI is only as accurate as the data entered and states and local agencies do not enter all interactions for a variety of reasons. There are arrests, convictions, incarcerations and warrants that are not entered the national database.

The US Sentencing Commission analyzed federal sentencing data and answers that question.

Do their findings apply to states? The FBI estimates that up to 30 percent of state offenders have out of state convictions, NCJRS.

Per federal data, immigration arrests have the highest percentage category followed by drug trafficking thus extrapolation to states will be cumbersome. But The Commission’s finding that approximately 30 percent of offenders have convictions in other states makes intuitive sense. Some had convictions from other jurisdictions of well over 50 percent.

Needless to say, if we were looking at arrests and prosecutions along with convictions, the percentages would be much higher.

What’s below are quotes (sometimes rearranged for readability) from the US Sentencing Commission.

US Sentencing Commission

This study expands on prior US Sentencing Commission research by examining the geographic mobility of federal offenders.

The report examines federal offender mobility in conviction patterns using the criminal history information for 64,178 offenders sentenced in FY 2018. For federal offenders with convictions in multiple states, this report provides comparisons by state of instant offense conviction, type of instant offense, and demographic characteristics to determine how offender mobility differs between subpopulations.

Mobility is defined as having convictions in multiple states, including the location of the conviction for the instant offense. This report adds to the existing literature on offender criminal history in two important ways.

First, the report provides information on how mobile federal offenders are, as measured by the number of offenders with convictions in multiple states.

Second, the report provides information on the proportion of offenders with convictions in states other than the state in which the offender was convicted for the instant offense. The report also examines the degree to which out-of-state convictions in offenders’ criminal histories contributed to their criminal history score and their Criminal History Category.


Almost one-third (30.0%) of the total federal offender population in fiscal year (FY) 2018 had convictions in more than one state.

The mobility of federal offenders varies by offender characteristics:

Immigration offenders were the most likely to have convictions in more than one state (38.7%), while child pornography offenders were the least likely (16.4%) to have convictions in more than one state.

Just under one-third (31.8%) of male offenders had convictions in two or more states compared to 17.8 percent of female offenders. • Hispanic offenders (31.0%) were the most likely to have convictions in more than one state, closely followed by White (29.3%), Black (28.5%) and Other race (27.8%) offenders.

The percentage of offenders having convictions in states other than the state of their instant offense varied from a high of 59.1 percent in North Dakota to a low of 10.5 percent in the territory of Puerto Rico.

A total of 13,904 FY 2018 offenders had out-of-state convictions that received criminal history points. Almost three-quarters of these offenders (73.9%) had a higher Criminal History Category due to these convictions.

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