The Commission establishes sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts. Each year, the Commission reviews and refines these policies in light of congressional action, decisions from courts of appeals, sentencing-related research, and input from the criminal justice community.
In this section, you can follow the Commission’s work through the amendment cycle as priorities are set, research is performed, testimony is heard, and amendments are adopted.
The U.S. Sentencing Commission is an independent agency in the judicial branch that was created as part of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. Commissioners are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The Attorney General, or the Attorney General’s designee, and the Chair of the U.S. Parole Commission serve as ex officio, nonvoting members of the Commission.
In this section, learn about the Commission’s mission, structure, and ongoing work.
(September 2017) This publication summarizes the nature of emerging federal alternative-to-incarceration court programs and highlights several legal and social science issues relating to them. The Commission’s analysis is qualitative rather than quantitative at this juncture because of a lack of available empirical data about the programs. The publication concludes by identifying several questions about the federal court programs that policymakers and courts should consider in deciding whether, and if so how, such programs should operate in the federal criminal justice system in the future.
As a supplement to the 2009 publication, the Commission is releasing this new report, using data from 2005 through 2014, to examine more recent trends in the rates of alternative sentences using a methodology that expands that of the prior report. (May 2015)
- U.S. Sentencing Commission unanimously approved its list of 2014-2015 priorities, including consideration of federal sentences for economic crimes and continued work on addressing concerns with mandatory minimum penalties.
- Commission votes to send to Congress guideline amendments providing more alternatives to incarceration, increasing consideration of certain specific offender characteristics during the sentencing process.
This paper analyzes alternative sentences for federal offenders and, specifically, United States citizens sentenced under various types of alternatives. This analysis describes current federal sentencing policy governing alternative sentences and examines offenders with alternative sentences using the United States Sentencing Commission’s data. An analysis of factors associated with alternative sentences imposed for eligible offenders provides insight into considerations made by federal sentencing courts in determining whether to impose alternatives. (January 2009)