Federal judges currently allow defendants to become participants in the sentencing process by inviting them to speak before the sentence is imposed. Defendants frequently accept the invitation and allocute: they use performative language to effect apologies, requests, promises and thanks in their pursuit of a mitigated sentence. This study looks at statements given by defendants convicted of non-capital crimes in one federal court, the San Diego branch of the southern district of California. A pragmatics-based analysis describes the speech acts of the defendants as they seek to succeed in their allocution. A corpus study analyzes word usage in the proceedings. In language that is less formal than that used by other participants in the hearing, defendants use similar strategies to convey their remorse. At the present time there is disagreement as to what value these statements in allocution have, and as to whether or not they should be encouraged. This study concludes that allocution has value in a just sentencing process.