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.
(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 .
(August 2015) The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 (FSA) reduced the statutory penalties for crack cocaine offenses to produce an 18-to-1 crack-to-powder drug quantity ratio. This report assesses the impact of the FSA on the federal criminal justice system.
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 answers to the most frequently asked questions about the Commission's decision to give retroactive effect to the proposed permanent guideline amendment implementing the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. Background Information Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, effective August 3, 2010, that, among other things, increased the quantities of crack cocaine that trigger...
The purpose of this report is to contribute to the ongoing assessment of federal cocaine sentencing policy by Congress and others in the federal criminal justice system. This report updates and supplements much of the research and data presented in the United States Sentencing Commission’s 1995 Special Report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy and referred to in the Commission’s 1997 Special Report to Congress: Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy. (May 2002)
Summary In response to directive by Congress, the Commission again has deliberated carefully over federal cocaine sentencing policy and has assessed the concerns raised by Congress, conducted new research, consulted with law enforcement and substance abuse experts, and reviewed all of the...
This is the United States Sentencing Commission’s first report to Congress on the subject of federal cocaine sentencing policy. Congress directed the United States Sentencing Commission to study federal sentencing policy as it relates to possession and distribution of all forms of cocaine. Specifically, Congress directed the Sentencing Commission to report on the current federal structure of differing penalties for powder cocaine and crack cocaine offenses and to provide recommendations for retention or modification of these differences. (February 1995)
Sensible Sentencing Reform: The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 This document provides background information on the impact of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which changed the statutory penalties for crack cocaine and eliminated the mandatory minimum penalty for simple possession of crack cocaine. Download the PDF
Data on Retroactive Application of the 2007 Crack Cocaine Amendment A set of tables presenting data on cases in which a motion for a reduced sentence was considered under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2). These cases involve retroactive application of the crack cocaine amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines (Amendment 706, as amended by Amendment 711) which became effective on November 1, 2007, and...