July 23, 2014

The Trial Penalty and 10-20-Life: The Case of Jerry Fulcher

We talk frequently about how mandatory minimums create a “trial penalty.” By “trial penalty” we mean that when a crime carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence, a defendant’s exercise of the constitutional right to trial becomes a gamble with enormous stakes. The most egregious trial penalty cases are the ones we see regularly around here…. Read more »

July 22, 2014

Are Judges Qualified to Impose Appropriate Sentences?

One unavoidable premise of the intellectual argument for mandatory minimums is that judges are inherently unreliable. They can’t be trusted to impose appropriate sentences in criminal cases, so the legislature has to remove their discretion by creating a centralized, top-down, one-size-fits-all sentencing scheme. People who follow sentencing policy understand that this decision – i.e., substituting the localized knowledge… Read more »

July 22, 2014

The Florida Sheriffs Association Endorses Judicial Discretion

I spend a lot of time on Twitter. I learn a lot, I get to interact with a lot of smart people, and I get to vent frustrations and outline thoughts that I can later turn into more coherent arguments against mandatory minimums. (I can also analyze the Karate Kid and Florida Gators sports.) I’ve… Read more »

July 18, 2014

Top GOP Presidential Contenders Support Mandatory Minimum Reform

According to a new Gallup poll, “four potential Republican presidential candidates stand out above the rest of the possible field.” The standard for “standing out” seems to be that all four are “familiar to more than 60 of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents and have net favorable ratings of at least 43-percentage points.” The four potential candidates… Read more »

July 17, 2014

Answers to your Frequently Asked Questions about the New Clemency Initiative

What is the Justice Department’s new clemency initiative?Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced a set of criteria the Justice Department and White House will use when considering clemency petitions from federal prisoners. The criteria will help the Justice Department identify federal prisoners who, if sentenced today under current sentencing laws and policies, would likely have… Read more »

July 10, 2014

Bonnie Gets Her Day

Bonnie DiToro had been waiting years for this day. In late June, she was finally facing a room full of Massachusetts legislators and their aides. At long last, she could tell them how the state’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws had affected her, her children, her parents and the rest of her family. The long road… Read more »

July 5, 2014

Calling all Orange Is the New Black Fans!

You can rep your favorite TV show and support your favorite sentencing reform organization at the same time! “Free Piper” t-shirts are back and 100% of the proceeds go to FAMM. Check them out here! And read about the origin of the “Free Piper” shirt: In 2004, while Piper Kerman was serving time in a… Read more »


All blog posts older than June 1st 2013, are available at our previous blog.