Estimates relative to CBO’s July 2021 baseline; estimated budget authority equals outlays.
H.R. 1621 would prohibit federal judges, when setting prison sentences in criminal cases, from considering conduct for which defendants were acquitted, unless consideration of the conduct would reduce the sentence. Under current law, there are no limitations on the information federal judges can consider when imposing a sentence in a criminal case. Specifically, under the bill, judges would be barred from considering conduct for which a person was charged and adjudicated not guilty by a federal, state, or tribal court.
Under the bill, CBO estimates that hundreds of defendants each year would receive sentences that are a little shorter than they would likely receive under current law. CBO also expects that many of those defendants would, upon the completion of their sentences, become eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, premium tax credits for health insurance purchased through the marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. In total, CBO estimates that providing benefits for more beneficiaries under those programs would increase direct spending by $19 million over the 2022-2031 period. Of that amount, spending under the Social Security program, which is classified as off-budget, would total $1 million over the same period.
In addition, CBO expects that future appropriations for operating the federal prison system would be reduced to reflect savings in the bureau’s overall costs to house and monitor prisoners. Those savings are discretionary and, thus, are not reflected in the table.