Sentencing Guidelines for United States Courts

Summary:

In August 2008, the Commission published a notice of possible policy priorities for the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2009. See 72 FR 46341 (August 8, 2008). After reviewing public comment received pursuant to the notice of proposed priorities, the Commission has identified its policy priorities for the upcoming amendment cycle and hereby gives notice of these policy priorities.

For further information contact:

Michael Courlander, Public Affairs Officer, Telephone: (202) 502-4590.

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 sentencing courts pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 994(a). The Commission also periodically reviews and revises previouslypromulgated 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).

As part of its statutory authority and responsibility to analyze sentencing issues, including operation of the federal sentencing guidelines, the Commission has identified its policy prioritiesfor the amendment cycle ending May 1, 2009. The Commission recognizes, however, that other factors, such as the enactment of any legislation requiring Commission action, may affect the Commission's ability to complete work on any or all of its identified priorities by the statutory deadline of May 1, 2009. Accordingly, it may be necessary to continue work on any or all of these issues beyond the amendment cycle ending on May 1, 2009.

As so prefaced, the Commission has identified the following priorities:

(1) Continuation of its work on federal sentencing policy with the congressional, executive, and judicial branches of the government, and other interested parties, in light of United States v. Booker and subsequent Supreme Court decisions, possibly including (A) An evaluation of the impact of those decisions on the federal sentencing guideline system, (B) development of amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines, (C) development of recommendations for legislation regarding federal sentencing policy, and (D) a study of statutory mandatory minimum penalties;

(2) Consideration of alternatives to incarceration, including preparation and dissemination of information and materials from the “Symposium on Crime and Punishment in the United States: Alternatives to Incarceration,” hosted by the Commission on July 14-15, 2008, in Washington, DC;

(3) Implementation of crime legislation enacted during the 110th or 111th Congress warranting a Commission response, including (A) the Court Security Improvement Act of 2007, Public Law 110-177; and (B) any other legislation authorizing statutory penalties or creating new offenses that requires incorporation into the guidelines;

(4) Continuation of its work with Congress and other interested parties on cocaine sentencing policy to implement the recommendations set forth in the Commission's 2002 and 2007 reports to Congress, both entitled Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy, and to develop appropriate guideline amendments in response to any related legislation;

(5) A multi-year study of the definition of “crime of violence” used in both statutes and guidelines;

(6) Continuation of its efforts, in light of recent Supreme Court jurisprudence and pursuant to the Commission's ongoing authority and responsibility under 28 U.S.C. 995(a)(17), (18), and (21), to receive feedback and provide expanded training on the federal sentencing guidelines, including possibly holding regional public hearings;

(7) Resolution of circuit conflicts, pursuant to the Commission's continuing authority and responsibility, under 28 U.S.C. 991(b)(1)(B) and Braxton v. United States, 500 U.S. 344 (1991), to resolve conflicting interpretations of the guidelines by the federal courts; and

(8) Consideration of miscellaneous guideline application issues regarding (A) Offenses involving counterfeit bearer obligations of the United States, (B) application of § 3C1.3 (Commission of Offense While on Release), and (C) other miscellaneous issues coming to the Commission's attention from case law and other sources.

Authority:

28 U.S.C. 994(a), (o); USSC Rules of Practice and Procedure 5.2.

Ricardo H. Hinojosa,

Chair.

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