Policymaking

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.

 

2024-2025 Amendment Cycle

  • Federal Register Notice

     

    The Commission seeks comment on proposed priorities for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2025.
     

    Public comment should be received by the Commission on or before July 15, 2024.