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.
(March 2017) The focus of this report is the 25,431 U.S. citizen federal offenders released from prison or placed on probation in calendar year 2005. The findings included in this report build on those in the Recidivism Overview Report . Information about the components of Chapter Four of the Guidelines Manual —including total criminal history score, criminal history category, and point assignments for types of past convictions—and their association with recidivism are contained in this report.
(February 2017) This report examines a group of 10,888 federal drug trafficking offenders who were released in calendar year 2005. These 10,888 offenders, who were all U.S. citizens, represent 42.8 percent of the 25,431 federal offenders who were released in calendar year 2005 and analyzed in the Commission’s 2016 report, Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview .
(July 2016) This report presents findings of the Commission's multi-year study of statutory and guideline definitions relating to the nature of a defendant’s prior conviction and the impact of such definitions on the relevant statutory and guideline provisions.
Commission issues Report to the Congress: Career Offender Enhancements. Report analyzes career offenders’ prior criminal history, incarceration terms and recidivism rates, and makes statutory recommendations.
(March 2016) This report provides a broad overview of key findings from the United States Sentencing Commission’s study of recidivism of federal offenders. The Commission studied offenders who were either released from federal prison after serving a sentence of imprisonment or placed on a term of probation in 2005. In the future, the Commission will release additional publications discussing specific topics concerning recidivism of federal offenders.
- 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.
This publication provides an updated recidivism analysis of crack cocaine offenders who were released early after implementation of a 2007 guidelines amendment which retroactively reduced by two levels the base offense levels assigned by the Drug Quantity Table for crack cocaine. In this five-year study, these offenders were compared with similarly situated offenders who served their original sentences. (May 2014)
This document provides certain information considered by the Commission as part of its determination to amend the guideines to eliminate the consideration of "recency" points provided in USSG §4A1.1(e). That amendment, amendment number 5, currently is pending before Congress as part of the package of amendments submitted to Congress on April 29, 2010. The amendment has a specified effective date of November 1, 2010. (August 2010)
This is the United States Sentencing Commission’s fourth report to Congress on the subject of federal cocaine sentencing policy. The Commission submits this update pursuant to both its general statutory authority under 28 U.S.C. §§ 994-95 and its specific responsibility to advise Congress on sentencing policy under 28 U.S.C. § 995(a)(20). Congress has not acted on any of the various statutory recommendations set forth in the Commission’s prior reports and expressly disapproved the Commission’s guideline amendment addressing crack cocaine penalties submitted on May 1, 1995. (May 2007)
The third release in the Research Series on the Recidivism of Federal Offenders describes the empirical foundations of the guidelines' Chapter Four Criminal History Category and its links to the Salient Factor Score risk prediction instrument developed by the U.S. Parole Commission. The report documents the comparative recidivism predictive power of both measures, both for their individual component elements, and for their total formulations. The analysis measures the predictive power of hypothetical reformulations of the Criminal History Category, reporting a suggested impact of age and first offender elements upon guideline recidivism prediction. (January 4, 2005)
This second release in the Research Series on the Recidivism of Federal Offenders provides an empirical foundation for the Commission's study of recidivism rates among federal offenders with little or no criminal history prior to the federal instant offense. Using definitional frameworks established in several earlier Commission staff working group studies on "first offenders," the data documents recidivism risk for three plausible first offender groupings. The analysis reports that recidivism risk is lowest for those offenders with least experience in the criminal justice system. (May 2004)
The first release in the Research Series on the Recidivism of Federal Offenders, this report examines in detail the predictive statistical power of the Chapter Four Criminal History guidelines. The study uses pre-conviction and instant offense information for a sample of guideline federal offenders sentenced in fiscal year 1992, matched with their post-sentencing criminal behavior collected from FBI records. Both tabular and statistical models of recidivism outcomes report findings by criminal history category and point groupings, as well as by offender demographics, instant offense characteristics, and recidivating offense types. (May 2004)