Policymaking
One of the Commission’s principal purposes is to establish sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts. Each year, the Commission reviews and refines the guidelines in light of congressional action, decisions from courts of appeals, sentencing-related research, and input from the criminal justice community. There have been over 800 amendments since the guidelines went into effect in 1987.


Learn more about our amendment process below.
  • Proposed Priorities
    June - August
    The Commission begins the amendment cycle in early spring with a Commission planning session. By late spring, the Commission publishes for public comment a list of tentative policy priorities.
  • Final Priorities
    September - December
    In late summer, the Commission votes to adopt final priorities. These are the issues the Commission will address in the amendment cycle. Then, staff policy teams are formed to research the various issues and develop recommendations, including possible guideline amendments.
  • Proposed Amendments
    January - March
    Typically in January (but sometimes earlier) the Commission publishes proposed amendments responding to its list of priorities. The Commission solicits comment from the general public and stakeholder groups and holds public hearings to receive testimony on the proposed amendments.
  • Adopted Amendments
    April - May
    Typically in April (but sometimes earlier), the Commission votes on whether to adopt amendments. No later than May 1, amendments are submitted to Congress for a 180-day review period. If Congress takes no action during this period, the adopted amendments become effective November 1.

 

2016-2017 Amendment Cycle

  • proposed priorities
  • final priorities
  • proposed amendments
  • final amendments
  • Event

    August 18, 2016

    A public meeting of the Commission is scheduled for Thursday, August 18, 2016, at 1:00 p.m. pursuant to Rule 3.2 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure of the United States Sentencing Commission. Video of the event is available.

  • Public Comment

    July 25, 2016

    Public Comment Received on Proposed Priorities
    (81 FR 37241)

    The Commission received public comment on proposed priorities for the upcoming amendment cycle.

  • Event

    July 21, 2016

    A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday, July 21, 2016, from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. This hearing will be streamed live.

     

    The Commission will receive testimony from members of the Tribal Issues Advisory Group (TIAG) on its final tribal issues report.

  • Federal Register Notice

    June 09, 2016

    The Commission is seeking comment on possible priority policy issues for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2017 (81 FR 37241).


    Deadline: July 25, 2016.


    Download the Notice

  • Federal Register Notice

    August 18, 2016

    The Commission has decided to establish a standing Tribal Issues Advisory Group and invites eligible applicants to apply for membership.

    Download the Notice

  • Press Release

    August 18, 2016

     

    U.S. Sentencing Commission announces its list of 2016-2017 policy priorities. 

  • Federal Register Notice

    August 18, 2016

    After reviewing public comment, the Commission has identified its policy priorities for the upcoming amendment cycle.

    Download the Notice

  • Event

    April 18, 2017

    A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday April 18, 2017 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m (ET). This hearing will be streamed live.



    The Commission will receive testimony on synthetic drugs and alternatives to incarceration court programs.

  • Public Comment

    March 10, 2017

    Reply Comment Received on Proposed Amendments
    (81 FR 92003)

    The Commission received reply comment on proposed amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines in response to original comment.

  • Public Comment

    February 20, 2017

    Public Comment Received on Proposed Amendments
    (81 FR 92003)

    The Commission received public comment on proposed amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines.

  • Video

    January 10, 2017

     

    Commission staff prepared a data presentation to inform public comment on a proposed amendment related to the treatment of youthful offenders under the guidelines. The deadline for public comment is February 20, 2017 with a reply period closing on March 10, 2017.

  • Video

    January 09, 2017

     

    Commission staff prepared a data presentation to inform public comment on a proposed amendment related to first offenders and alternatives to incarceration. The deadline for public comment is February 20, 2017 with a reply period closing on March 10, 2017.

  • Federal Register Notice

    December 19, 2016

    The Commission has proposed amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines and has requested public comment.

    Public comment should be received by the Commission not later than February 20, 2017. Written reply comments, which may only respond to issues raised in the original comment period, should be received by the Commission no later than March 10, 2017. 

    81 FR 92003

  • Amendments

    December 19, 2016

    These PDFs are compilations that contain preliminary, unofficial text of proposed amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines and issues for comment. Official text appeared in the December 19, 2016 edition of the Federal Register (81 FR 92003 and 81 FR 92021).

     

    "Reader-Friendly" Version of Proposed Amendments

     

     

    Issue for Comment Regarding Synthetic Drugs

  • Federal Register Notice

    December 19, 2016

    The Commission is seeking comment on a policy priority pertaining to MDMA/Ecstasy, synthetic cannabinoids, and synthetic cathinones.

    Public comment regarding the issue for comment set forth in this notice should be received by the Commission no later than March 10, 2017.

    81 FR 92021

  • Press Release

    December 09, 2016

     

    U.S. Sentencing Commission holds last public meeting of the current commission, proposes 2017 amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines.