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.

  • 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

    As part of its continuing work on this priority, the Commission is publishing this request for public comment on issues related to MDMA/Ecstasy and methylone, one of the synthetic cathinones included in the Commission's study. 


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


    82 FR 28382

  • Federal Register Notice

    August 17, 2017

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

    Download the Notice

  • Press Release

    August 17, 2017

     

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