UNITED STATES SENTENCING COMMISSION
Proposed Amendments for Amendment Cycle
AGENCY: United States Sentencing Commission.
ACTION: Notice of proposed amendments to sentencing guidelines, policy statements, and commentary. Request for public comment, including public comment regarding retroactive application of any of the proposed amendments. Notice of public hearing.
SUMMARY: Pursuant to section 994(a), (o), and (p) of title 28, United States Code, the United States Sentencing Commission is considering promulgating amendments to the sentencing guidelines, policy statements, and commentary. This notice sets forth the proposed amendments and, for each proposed amendment, a synopsis of the issues addressed by that amendment. This notice also sets forth several issues for comment, some of which are set forth together with the proposed amendments, and one of which (regarding retroactive application of proposed amendments) is set forth in the Supplementary Information section of this notice.
DATES: (1) Written Public Comment.—Written public comment regarding the proposed amendments and issues for comment set forth in this notice, including public comment regarding retroactive application of any of the proposed amendments, should be received by the Commission not later than October 10, 2017. Written reply comments, which may only respond to issues raised in the original comment period, should be received by the Commission on November 6, 2017. Public comment regarding a proposed amendment received after the close of the comment period, and reply comment received on issues not raised in the original comment period, may not be considered.
(2) Public Hearing.—The Commission may hold a public hearing regarding the proposed amendments and issues for comment set forth in this notice. Further information regarding any public hearing that may be scheduled, including requirements for testifying and providing written testimony, as well as the date, time, location, and scope of the hearing, will be provided by the Commission on the its website.
ADDRESSES: All written comment should be sent to the Commission by electronic mail or regular mail. The email address for public comment is Public_Comment@ussc.gov. The regular mail address for public comment is United States Sentencing Commission, One Columbus Circle, N.E., Suite 2-500, Washington, D.C. 20002-8002, Attention: Public Affairs.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Christine Leonard, Director, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, (202) 502-4500, firstname.lastname@example.org.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The United States Sentencing Commission is an independent agency in the judicial branch of the United States Government. The Commission promulgates sentencing guidelines and policy statements for federal courts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 994(a). The Commission also periodically reviews and revises previously promulgated guidelines pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 994(o) and submits guideline amendments to the Congress not later than the first day of May each year pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 994(p).
Publication of a proposed amendment requires the affirmative vote of at least three voting members of the Commission and is deemed to be a request for public comment on the proposed amendment. See Rules 2.2 and 4.4 of the Commission’s Rules of Practice and Procedure. In contrast, the affirmative vote of at least four voting members is required to promulgate an amendment and submit it to Congress. See Rule 2.2; 28 U.S.C. § 994(p).
The proposed amendments in this notice are presented in one of two formats. First, some of the amendments are proposed as specific revisions to a guideline, policy statement, or commentary. Bracketed text within a proposed amendment indicates a heightened interest on the Commission’s part in comment and suggestions regarding alternative policy choices; for example, a proposed enhancement of  levels indicates that the Commission is considering, and invites comment on, alternative policy choices regarding the appropriate level of enhancement. Similarly, bracketed text within a specific offense characteristic or application note means that the Commission specifically invites comment on whether the proposed provision is appropriate. Second, the Commission has highlighted certain issues for comment and invites suggestions on how the Commission should respond to those issues.
In summary, the proposed amendments and issues for comment set forth in this notice are as follows:
(1) a multi-part proposed amendment to respond to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114–74 (Nov. 2, 2015), including (A) revisions to Appendix A (Statutory Index), and a related issue for comment; and (B) amending §2B1.1 (Theft, Property Destruction, and Fraud) to address new increased penalties for certain persons who commit fraud offenses under certain Social Security programs, and related issues for comment;
(2) a multi-part proposed amendment relating to the findings and recommendations contained in the May 2016 Report of the Commission’s Tribal Issues Advisory Group, including (A) amending the Commentary to §4A1.3 (Departures Based on Inadequacy of Criminal History Category (Policy Statement)) to set forth a non-exhaustive list of factors for the court to consider in determining whether, and to what extent, an upward departure based on a tribal court conviction is appropriate, and related issues for comment; and (B) amending the Commentary to §1B1.1 (Application Instructions) to provide a definition of “court protection order,” and a related issue for comment;
(3) a multi-part proposed amendment to Chapters Four (Criminal History and Criminal Livelihood) and Five (Determining the Sentence), including (A) setting forth options for a new Chapter Four guideline, at §4C1.1 (First Offenders), and amending §5C1.1 (Imposition of a Term of Imprisonment) to provide lower guideline ranges for “first offenders” generally and increase the availability of alternatives to incarceration for such offenders at the lower levels of the Sentencing Table, and related issues for comment; and (B) revising Chapter Five to (i) amend the Sentencing Table in Chapter Five, Part A to expand Zone B by consolidating Zones B and C and (ii) amend the Commentary to §5F1.2 (Home Detention) to revise language requiring electronic monitoring, and related issues for comment.
(4) a proposed amendment to the Commentary to §3E1.1 (Acceptance of Responsibility) setting forth options to revise how a defendant’s challenge to relevant conduct should be considered in determining whether the defendant has accepted responsibility for purposes of the guideline, and a related issue for comment;
(5) a multi-part proposed amendment to the Guidelines Manual to respond to recently enacted legislation and miscellaneous guideline issues, including (A) amending §2B5.3 (Criminal Infringement of Copyright or Trademark) to respond to changes made by the Transnational Drug Trafficking Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114–154 (May 16, 2016); (B) amending §2A3.5 (Failure to Register as a Sex Offender), §2A3.6 (Aggravated Offenses Relating to Registration as a Sex Offender), and Appendix A (Statutory Index) to respond to changes made by the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and Other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders Act, Pub. L. 114–119 (Feb. 8, 2016); (C) revisions to Appendix A (Statutory Index) to respond to a new offense established by the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, Pub. L. 114–182 (June 22, 2016); (D) a technical amendment to §2G1.3 (Promoting a Commercial Sex Act or Prohibited Sexual Conduct with a Minor; Transportation of Minors to Engage in a Commercial Sex Act or Prohibited Sexual Conduct; Travel to Engage in Commercial Sex Act or Prohibited Sexual Conduct with a Minor; Sex Trafficking of Children; Use of Interstate Facilities to Transport Information about a Minor); and (E) amending §5D1.3 (Conditions of Supervised Release) to respond to changes made by the Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016, Pub. L. 114–324 (Dec. 16, 2016).
(6) a proposed amendment to make technical changes to §2D1.1 (Unlawful Manufacturing, Importing, Exporting, or Trafficking (Including Possession with Intent to Commit These Offenses); Attempt or Conspiracy) to replace “marihuana equivalency” as the conversion factor in the Drug Equivalency Tables for determining penalties for certain controlled substances;
(7) a proposed amendment to make various technical changes to the Guidelines Manual, including (A) an explanatory note in Chapter One, Part A, Subpart 1(4)(b) (Departures) and clarifying changes to the Commentary to §2B1.1 (Theft, Property Destruction, and Fraud); (B) technical changes to §4A1.2 (Definitions and Instructions for Computing Criminal History) and to the Commentary of other guidelines to correct title references to §4A1.3 (Departures Based on Inadequacy of Criminal History Category (Policy Statement)); and (C) clerical changes to §2D1.11 (Unlawful Distributing, Importing, Exporting or Possessing a Listed Chemical; Attempt or Conspiracy), §5D1.3 (Conditions of Supervised Release), Appendix A (Statutory Index), and to the Commentary of other guidelines.
In addition, the Commission requests public comment regarding whether, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and 28 U.S.C. § 994(u), any proposed amendment published in this notice should be included in subsection (d) of §1B1.10 (Reduction in Term of Imprisonment as a Result of Amended Guideline Range (Policy Statement)) as an amendment that may be applied retroactively to previously sentenced defendants. The Commission lists in §1B1.10(d) the specific guideline amendments that the court may apply retroactively under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). The background commentary to §1B1.10 lists the purpose of the amendment, the magnitude of the change in the guideline range made by the amendment, and the difficulty of applying the amendment retroactively to determine an amended guideline range under §1B1.10(b) as among the factors the Commission considers in selecting the amendments included in §1B1.10(d). To the extent practicable, public comment should address each of these factors.
The text of the proposed amendments and related issues for comment are set forth in the full text. Additional information pertaining to the proposed amendments and issues for comment described in this notice may be accessed through the Commission’s website.
AUTHORITY: 28 U.S.C. § 994(a), (o), (p), (x); USSC Rules of Practice and Procedure 4.3, 4.4.
William H. Pryor, Jr.,