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.

 

2017-2018 Amendment Cycle

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

    August 17, 2017

    A public meeting of the Commission is scheduled for Thursday, August 17, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. pursuant to Rule 3.2 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure of the United States Sentencing Commission.


    Watch the meeting.

  • Public Comment

    August 11, 2017

    Public Comment on Synthetic Drugs
    82 FR 28382

    The Commission received comment on synthetic drugs, including MDMA/Ecstasy and methylone.

  • Public Comment

    July 31, 2017

    Public Comment Received on Proposed Priorities
    82 FR 28381

    The Commission received public comment on proposed priorities, including the structure of the guidelines, mandatory minimum penalties, crimes of violence, alternatives to incarceration, recidivism, and others.

  • Federal Register Notice

    June 22, 2017

    The Commission has proposed priorities for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2018 and has requested public comment.


    Public comment should be received by the Commission on or before July 31, 2017. 


    82 FR 28381

  • Federal Register Notice

    June 22, 2017

    The Commission is requesting public comment on issues related to MDMA/Ecstasy and methylone. 


    Public comment should be received by the Commission on or before August 7, 2017.


    82 FR 28382

  • Event

    December 05, 2017

    A public hearing was held on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. (ET).  This hearing was streamed live. 


     

    Commissioners received testimony on fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, and synthetic cannabinoids.

  • Public Comment

    November 13, 2017

    Public Comment on Fentanyl & Fentanyl Analogues
    82 FR 47322

    The Commission received comment on fentanyl and fentanyl analogues.

  • Public Comment

    October 27, 2017

    Public Comment on Synthetic Drugs
    82 FR 40648

    The Commission received comment on Synthetic Cathinones, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and Synthetic Cannabinoids.

  • Federal Register Notice

    October 11, 2017

    The Commission is seeking comment on a policy priority pertaining to fentanyl and fentanyl analogues.

     

    Public comment should be received by the Commission no later than November 13, 2017.


    82 FR 47322

  • Event

    October 04, 2017

    A public hearing was held on Wednesday, October 4, 2017 from 9:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m (ET). This hearing was streamed live.


     

    The Commission received testimony on synthetic cathinones.

  • Federal Register Notice

    August 24, 2017

    The Commission is seeking comment on a policy priority pertaining to synthetic cathinones, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and synthetic cannabinoids.


    Public comment should be received by the Commission no later than October 27, 2017.


    82 FR 40648

  • Press Release

    August 17, 2017

     

    U.S. Sentencing Commission announces its list of 2017-2018 policy priorities, proposes "holdover" amendments. 

  • Federal Register Notice

    August 17, 2017

    The Commission has finalized policy priorities for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2018.


    82 FR 39949

  • Public Comment

    March 28, 2018

    Reply Comment Received on Proposed Amendments
    (83 FR 3869)

    The Commission received reply comment on proposed amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines related to synthetic drugs.

     
  • Event

    March 14, 2018

     

    A public hearing was held on March 14, 2018 at 9:00 a.m. (ET). This hearing was streamed live.  A video recording is available.

     

     

    Commissioners received testimony on proposed amendments related to Synthetic Drugs and First Offenders/Alternatives to Incarceration.

  • Public Comment

    March 06, 2018

    Public Comment on Proposed Amendments
    83 FR 3869

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

  • Event

    February 08, 2018

    A public hearing was held on February 8, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. (ET).  This hearing was streamed live.  A video recording of this event is available. 


     

    Commissioners received testimony on proposed amendments related to the Bipartisan Budget Act, Tribal Issues, and Acceptance of Responsibility.

  • Video

    January 31, 2018

     

    Watch this data briefing, which provides information related to the trafficking of synthetic cathinones, synthetic cannabinoids, fentanyl, and fentanyl analogues.

    Download accompanying slides.

  • Amendments

    January 25, 2018

    This document contains unofficial text of proposed amendments to the sentencing guidelines provided only for the convenience of the user in the preparation of public comment.    The proposed amendments and issues for comment are subject to a public comment period running through March 6, 2018 and a reply comment period running through March 28, 2018.

     

    "Reader-Friendly" Version of Proposed Amendments

     

     

     

  • Federal Register Notice

    January 25, 2018

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


    Public comment will be accepted through March 6, 2018. Written reply comments will be accepted through March 28, 2018.

    Federal Register Notice

  • Event

    January 19, 2018

     

    A public meeting was held on January 19, 2018 at 10:30 a.m. (ET) At the meeting, commissioners voted to publish additional proposed guideline amendments and issues for comment. The meeting was streamed live.   

  • Press Release

    January 19, 2018

     

    U.S. Sentencing Commission proposes package of synthetic drugs amendments; new classes of synthetic drugs and increases to fentanyl penalties among proposals. 

  • Federal Register Notice

    May 04, 2018

    The Commission submitted to Congress amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines with an effective date of November 1, 2018.

    Download the Notice

  • Amendments

    April 30, 2018

     

    These documents contain official and unofficial text of final amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines, which were submitted to Congress on April 30, 2018 (effective November 1, 2018).

    "Reader-Friendly" Amendments

    Official Text of Amendments

  • Event

    April 12, 2018

     

    A public meeting of the Commission was held on Thursday, April 12, 2018 at 11:30 a.m. (ET) pursuant to Rule 3.2 of the Rules of Practice and Procedure.

     

    This meeting was streamed live and a video recording is available. 

  • Press Release

    April 12, 2018

     

    U.S. Sentencing Commission adopts 2018 amendments; new classes of synthetic drugs and increases to fentanyl penalties among amendments. 

    Press Release