FAMM Hails ALEC Endorsement of Sentencing Reform; Says Sentencing Valve Proposal Improves Public Safety, Save Money

Post Date: August 5, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C. – FAMM President Julie Stewart today praised the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization comprising conservative state lawmakers from around the country, for approving model legislation to reform mandatory minimum sentencing laws. The model bill, known as Justice Safety Valve Act, would authorize judges to depart from a minimum sentence in certain cases so long as the sentencing court does not believe a shorter sentence would jeopardize public safety. The bill is similar to bipartisan, federal legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and in the U.S. House by Representatives Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY). FAMM published a major report in March 2013 titled “Turning off the Spigot: How Sentencing Safety Valves Can Help States Protect Public Safety and Save Money.

“One-size-fits-all sentencing laws don’t work,” said Ms. Stewart. “State legislators know this better than anyone. Rather than force taxpayers to keep subsidizing failure, lawmakers across the country are reforming their mandatory sentencing laws in order to improve public safety and save taxpayer money.” Stewart noted that Georgia, under the leadership of Governor Nathan Deal (R-GA), became the most recent state to adopt a sentencing safety valve in April.

FAMM Florida State Project Director Greg Newburn, who serves as FAMM’s representative in ALEC, said the group’s approval of safety valve model legislation demonstrates growing support for mandatory minimum reform among conservative and libertarian leaders both in and out of government. Newburn pointed to Senator Rand Paul’s sponsorship of the federal Justice Safety Valve Act, as well as recent endorsements for that bill by conservative columnist George Will, former National Rifle Association president David Keene, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, the National Association of Evangelicals and Justice Fellowship, the advocacy arm of Prison Fellowship Ministries.

“ALEC’s support is tremendously important. In the past, the group tended to side with those who thought lengthy prison terms were the best solution for every offender. Today’s vote shows that ALEC understands that the criminal justice system, like all government programs, should be subject to cost-benefit analysis and be forced to spend money on solutions that work,” said Newburn.

On June 23, The New York Times endorsed the federal safety valve. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Toledo Blade, and Lehigh Valley Times also have endorsed the bill.

FAMM is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for fair, individualized, and proportionate sentences that fit the crime and the individual while protecting public safety.  For more information, contact media@famm.org.

## 30 ##