Julie on Justice: A Moment 22 Years in the Making

Post Date: September 6, 2013

Julie Stewart Head Shot

Julie Stewart, FAMM President

I want to keep this short, sweet, and direct because we have a lot of work to do.

Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder announced significant changes in the charging practices of federal prosecutors. Perhaps more important, Holder threw the Justice Department’s full weight behind mandatory minimum sentencing reform. It was the first time since I started FAMM that the nation’s top prosecutor called on Congress to adopt shorter, fairer sentences for nonviolent offenders.

In the 24 hours surrounding the attorney general’s speech, my colleagues at FAMM and I were interviewed by NBC Nightly News, CBS Evening News, PBS NewsHour, CNN, USA TodayThe Washington PostWall Street JournalPolitico, Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, NPR, and CBS Radio. “What did this new development mean?” the media wanted to know. We all gave the right answer: Mandatory minimums have failed by any objective measure and should be repealed.

I will tell you what I really think is happening: We are winning. We are turning the tide at long last. And when I say “we,” I really mean it: we – you, me, and everyone who has been fighting for common sense reform – are winning.

How do I know? Because four days after Holder’s speech, the U.S. Sentencing Commission agreed with FAMM’s request to consider amending the sentencing guidelines so that all drug sentences would be reduced by two levels. The commissioners said they received 14,000 comments in support of their proposed priorities, including the “drug minus two” reduction. I know many of you took the time to write, and now you know that your voice was heard.

I also want to thank everyone who participated in our “Action August” by contacting your member of Congress and asking him or her to support mandatory minimum reform. We need them to listen like the Commission did.

In September, the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold a hearing on legislative reforms, including the Justice Safety Valve Act. Stay tuned to future messages from FAMM as we are going to ask for your help both before and after the hearing to get our message out. I know we can count on you.

Before I close, I wanted to share something that I found encouraging and a bit funny. The day after Attorney General Holder’s speech, the New York Times editors wrote, “You know a transformational moment has arrived when the attorney general of the United States makes a highly anticipated speech on a politically combustible topic and there is virtually no opposition to be heard.”

On one hand, the editors are right. We clearly have reached a tipping point and I am very encouraged about where we stand today. And, yet, I have to laugh because we certainly did not stumble upon this “transformational moment” by coincidence. It’s taken 22 years of my life, and a lot of your blood, sweat, and tears – mostly tears, I know – to get here. And we’re still not done.

The good news is that we have the ball. We’re on offense and we’re driving down the field. But there’s no celebrating until we get this ball into the end zone.

We can do it.

My best,

Julie

Julie Stewart

FAMM President

12 Responses to “Julie on Justice: A Moment 22 Years in the Making”

  1. margaret

    I THINK THAT PEOPLE THAT MAKE A MISTAKE AND WILL NOT DO IT AGAIN NEED A BREAK. WE DO NOT NEED TO IMPRISON PEOPLE THAT MADE A FOOLISH MISTAKE.THEY WILL NOT DO IT AGAIN AND THEIR FAMILY NEEDS THEM AND BELIEVE ME IT WONT HAPPEN AGAIN. A LESSON LEARNED BY SOMEONE THAT IS ALREADY A GOOD CITIZEN.

    Reply
  2. Dixie Diaz

    Your work and time and energy is very much appreciated..thanks Julie excitement is on its way my husband will soon be home…

    Reply
  3. david #963032

    AS AN EX-OFFENDER I JUST WANNA SAY THANKS 4 ALL THE HARD WORK AND TEARS YOU GUYS PUT IN FOR THE LIL GUYS. READING YOUR LETTER ABOUT ALL DA WORK AND TEARS SENT ME BACK TO MY CELL WHERE I SPENT A LIL OVER 15 YEARS AND ALSO CRIED A MANY OF NIGHTS. NOW I CAN CRY TEARS OF JOY BECAUSE I KN OW CHANGE IS GONNA COME FOR ALL THE GUYS STILL LOCKED UP. ON BEHALF OF ALL DA GUYS LOCKED UP WE JUST WANNA SAY THANKS AND MAY THE GOD UP STAIRS BLESS YOU ALL.

    Reply
  4. tammy wolfe

    I don’t agree with the way federal law is written. It is putting people in prison for way to long for some crime. My husband has never been in trouble before and he was charged with receipt of child porn. Although there was only 30 images on his computer he received NINE years in federal prison for a first time offender. I believe this was way too harsh for someone who has never been in trouble or even wanted to touch a child. Changes in federal law definitely need to be changed.

    Reply
    • Becky

      Our family is also having the child porn – Mandatory Minimum forever in prison issue. I found cautionclick.com just last week. Also in your state there is probably a group for families of sex offenders. Another group for reforming the sex offender registry – which your husband probably will be on. There are A LOT of people going through what we are….This FAMM group is new to me and I am getting involved with as many groups as possible, so should all of us.

      Reply
  5. katherine keiber

    What about the families and the ones one trail for a crime that they didn’t commit and being forced to plead out. Its good for something to happen for the drug offenders but one is putting forth for the other offenders. My husband is one of the offenders that was charged with crime that was done as favor for the state cause they didn’t have a case. What about those offenders and even the others…We all need help and justice for all the offenders not just the drug offenders. So can get something going for all the offenders.

    Reply
  6. Shafonda Sheppard

    Thanks to all of you, it has been a long time.you all are appreciated so much!! My fiance, George Thomas Kellum has been incarcerated shy of eighteen years. Although there was NO evidence provided, only he say, she say has taken a lot of his life away, my question is , when will he be released, so that we the family members can help him get his life started all over again. This has been a hurtful journey , but nevertheless all of the thanks goes out to the Famm organization, of course God for giving you all the strength to do whats right and not give up on REAL justice! Fight for what you believe that’s right!!! GO FAMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GO!!!!!!!!! FAAAAAMMMMMMM!!!!!

    Reply
  7. Neel Palakurthy

    Thank you for your work! I don’t really know anyone in prison, but I am completely outraged by the stupidity of both Mandatory Minimums and laws that prevent felons from becoming productive independent members of society

    Reply
  8. jane miller

    can you get my son out of jail.he didn’t do anything but look at a web page and a cop was posting as someone else.he dew him in and got him introuble

    Reply
  9. DW

    I would like to thank you Julie and your staff for continuing to push this much misaligned topic when it comes to the mis-administering of injustice. I’m sure there are many personal stories that you get concerning families and the incorrectness of justice received by the court systems. I have participated in some prior calls to justice, writing, donating, etc. I just recently read a topic about a high level drug kingpin getting 194 months. I compared this to my brother, who has obvious mental issues, 188 months no audio, no video, conspiracy involving FBI agents, unscruptulous officers, incompetent, or malicious lack thereof lawyers, prosecutors handling of the case. If you really want to expose the mandatory minimums and delve into the seriousness of the problem, I would highly recommend looking into this case. I assure you it will speak for itself. Please reply to email for further information.

    Reply
  10. Josh

    It is great that FAMM is working so hard to reform our totally messed up justice system. But all I seem to hear about are the mandatory sentences for drug offenses. There are some really messed up mandatory sentences for other crimes too. Two close friends, one over 18 and one under 18, but well past the age of consent (16) in our state, play around with a camera and take some nude pictures of each other while on a vacation. Nothing was ever done with the pictures but kept on a computer. Because a a conversation with the wrong person on the internet about the vacation the feds show up and now the over 18 person is charged with producing child pornography, interstate transportation of child pornography and posesing child pornography. The only pictures on the computer were of these two close friends, pictures that were only nudity, not even sex, but because they admitted to taking the pictures the prosecutor had everything he needed to get a conviction. He didn’t care what really happened, the fact that it was totally consensual, that no other photos of any questionable nature were on the computer. Just this one time unintentional mistake. But he got what he wanted, a conviction which comes with a mandatory 15 years. So all because of mandatory sentences there is no distinction between a guy who makes little kids do horrible things so he can take pictures of them, or two friends who play around with a camera and take a few nude pictures one time. How does that make any sense at all.

    Reply
  11. tammie townsend

    Why is Eric Holder allowing his US Atty’s to fight the Blewitt Ruling?? Why doesn’t he have them just concede that all crack defendants should have been treated the same so they all could be sentenced to the 18 to 1 Fair Sentencing Act, I would like for them to consider this statement before October 9th, 2013.
    Thank you…..

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Note: All comments are held for moderation before being published.