U.S. Congress

FAMM is promoting federal mandatory minimum sentencing reforms and prison reforms in the 115th Congress, which begins on January 3, 2017, and runs until December 31, 2018. As reform bills are introduced in Congress, FAMM’s summaries and positions on them will be posted below. Contact Molly Gill, our vice president of policy, at 202-822-6700 for assistance with legislation.

We stand ready to help members of Congress on the following kinds of sentencing and prison reforms:

  1. Safety Valves — FAMM supports creating exceptions to federal mandatory minimum sentences to prevent absurd results that don’t increase public safety.
    1. Justice Safety Valve Act – H.R. 2435 / S. 1134 (115th Congress)
    2. SAFE Justice Act – H.R. 4261 (115th Congress)
    3. Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act – S. 1917 (115th Congress)
    4. Smarter Sentencing Act – S. 1933 (115th Congress)
  2. Repeal — FAMM supports removing mandatory minimum sentences from the federal code.
    1. Mandatory Minimum Reform Act – H.R. 3800 (115th Congress)
  3. Gun Mandatory Minimum Sentences  FAMM supports fixing flaws in 18 U.S.C. section 924(c)’s mandatory minimum sentences for gun possession offenses.
    1. Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act – S. 1917 (115th Congress)
    2. SAFE Justice Act – H.R. 4261 (115th Congress)
  4. Early Release Programs for Elderly Prisoners — FAMM supports early release for elderly prisoners, who cost more and reoffend less than younger ones.
    1. Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act – S. 1917 (115th Congress)
    2. SAFE Justice Act – H.R. 4261 (115th Congress)
    3. Federal Prison Bureau Nonviolent Offender Relief Act of 2017 – H.R. 64 (115th Congress)
    4. CORRECTIONS Act – S. 1944 (115th Congress)
  5. Compassionate Release — FAMM supports bills that would increase the Bureau of Prisons’ use of its power to release prisoners who are elderly, ill, dying, or facing other “extraordinary and compelling circumstances.”
    1. GRACE Act (115th Congress)
  6. Crack Cocaine Mandatory Minimum Sentences — FAMM supports making the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010’s reforms to crack cocaine mandatory minimum punishments retroactive, and eliminating the existing disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences.
    1. Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act – S. 1917 (115th Congress)
    2. Smarter Sentencing Act – S. 1933 (115th Congress)
    3. SAFE Justice Act – H.R. 4261 (115th Congress)
  7. Prison reform — FAMM supports giving federal prisoners recidivism-reducing job and vocational training, education, and mental health and drug treatment while they are in prison. We believe prisoners should get incentives for working toward their own rehabilitation, including sentence reductions. FAMM also supports policies that keep prisoners close to and connected with their families during prison and give them meaningful reentry assistance at halfway houses. 
    1. Read FAMM’s report on prison reform: Using Time to Reduce Crime
    2. Prison Reform and Redemption Act – H.R. 3356 (115th Congress)
    3. Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act – S. 1917 (115th Congress)
    4. Dignity Act – S. 1534 (115th Congress)
    5. CORRECTIONS Act – S. 1994 (115th Congress)
    6. SAFE Justice Act – H.R. 4261 (115th Congress)
  8. Opposing New Mandatory Minimum Sentences — FAMM wants to ensure that all offenders get sentences that fit, so we oppose all bills that create or expand mandatory minimum sentences, like these:
    1. Kate’s Law – H.R. 361 / S. 45 (115th Congress)
    2. Back the Blue Act – H.R. 2437 / S. 1134 (115th Congress)
    3. SITSA Act – H.R. 2851 (115th Congress)
    4. Comprehensive Fentanyl Control Act – H.R. 1781 (115th Congress)
    5. Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017 – H.R. 1761 (115th Congress)
    6. SECURE Act – S. 2192 (115th Congress)
    7. Ending the Fentanyl Crisis Act of 2018 – S. 2635 (115th Congress)

Resources for Congressional staff:  FAMM’s Mandatory Minimum Briefing Book

How our Federal Campaign Works:

To change federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws, the U.S. Congress must pass new legislation. To help sentencing reform bills become law, FAMM meets regularly with Members of Congress and their staffs and provides them with data, resources, analysis and advice, stories of impacted people, and assistance with drafting reforms. When asked, FAMM and its supporters testify before Congress and its committees. Get involved to support our reform efforts today! 

How Bills Become Law:

To become a law, a sentencing reform bill must first be introduced by a Member of Congress, then reviewed by the Judiciary Committee, passed by both Houses of Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate), and signed by the President. This can be a lengthy and difficult process. Sometimes, reform bills do not become law for several years. Each session of Congress lasts two years. Any bill that does not become a law in that two-year period “dies” at the end of that time – which means the process to make that bill a law has to start all over again from scratch in the next Congress. Learn more about how a bill becomes a law.


Molly Gill
Vice President of Policy
1100 H Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 822-6700
Email: mgill@famm.org