Says Retroactivity for Federal Crack Prisoners Is Only Fair
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: December 17, 2010
Contact: Monica Pratt Raffanel, (202) 621-5044 or firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) today welcomed the introduction of legislation to retroactively apply recent reductions to federal crack cocaine sentences made by the Fair Sentencing Act.
H.R. 6548, the Fair Sentencing Clarification Act of 2010, was introduced on December 17 by House Crime Subcommittee Chairman Robert "Bobby" Scott (D-Va.). The bill would allow thousands of prisoners serving sentences under the old law to ask the courts to shorten their prison terms.
Click here to download the bill and click here to download FAMM's fact sheet on bill.
FAMM members and their families supported passage of the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) last summer, despite the fact that it did not help loved ones incarcerated for crack cocaine offenses. FAMM has been working nonstop since the Fair Sentencing Act was enacted to extend its reach to those whose indefensibly long sentences convinced Congress to act.
Retroactive application of the crack law by Congress and the United States Sentencing Commission could affect an estimated 21,000 prisoners over the next 30 years, reducing sentences by an average of almost four years. Enactment would result in substantial savings in prison costs -- currently shouldered by overburdened American taxpayers -- at no peril to public safety. Each prisoner requesting a sentence reduction would be considered individually, allowing courts to ensure that dangerous offenders are not returned to society early.
FAMM president and founder Julie Stewart made this statement in reaction to the bill's introduction:
"Congress must make the crack law retroactive. It's a matter of simple fairness. When a corporation discovers a flawed product, it stops producing it and orders a recall from the market. Similarly, when Congress acknowledged that crack penalties were flawed, they rightly corrected them going forward and now must provide relief to those already in prison serving stiff sentences for crack violations. It's only right that Congress show them the same compassion, fairness, and justice that the new law provides to those entering the prison system."
Stephanie Nodd, a FAMM member from Mobile, Ala., is one reason why the crack law should be made retroactive. Stephanie was barely 20 years old when she began dating a crack dealer and aided and abetted his operation. A little over a month after she met the dealer, Stephanie was arrested and held accountable for over 6.5 kilos of crack cocaine that was estimated to have been sold in the Mobile area from July 1987 to August 1988. Although Stephanie had no adult criminal record, she received 30 years, a longer sentence than almost all of her codefendants, including the dealer. Two decades later, Stephanie is still incarcerated. Click here to read more about her.
The bipartisan Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, passed last summer, reduced unduly harsh sentences for crack violations and repealed the five-year mandatory minimum for simple possession of crack cocaine - the first time a mandatory minimum drug sentence has been repealed since the Nixon Administration. The new law did not eliminate the mandatory minimum for trafficking crack cocaine, but the infamous 100:1 sentencing ratio was reduced to 18:1. Now 28 grams of crack cocaine triggers a five-year prison sentence and 280 grams of crack triggers a 10-year sentence.
For more detailed information about the history of the federal crack disparity and the new law, visit FAMM's Fair Sentencing Act Resource Page.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization supporting fair and proportionate sentencing laws that allow judicial discretion while maintaining public safety. For more information on FAMM, visit www.famm.org or contact Monica Pratt Raffanel at email@example.com.