What Can Be Done?


FAMM urges the following sensible approaches to sentencing: 

  1. Consider all sentencing alternatives – not only incarceration, but also other rehabilitative approaches such as substance abuse treatment, drug court supervision, probation, and community correctional programs, based on the individual situation. Read FAMM’s fact sheet on cost-effective alternatives to incarceration.
  2. Give judges discretion to fit the punishment to the individual. Because judges have an intimate and impartial understanding of each case, only they – not legislators, prosecutors, or defense attorneys – should determine appropriate sentences based on the facts of the crime.
  3. Use flexible sentencing guidelines instead of mandatory minimum sentences. Sentencing guidelines are in place at the federal and state levels to guide courts and help prevent wildly different sentences for similar crimes, while allowing for sentence adjustments based on the person’s role in the offense. Although imperfect, guidelines do a better job than mandatory minimums of ensuring that the punishment fits the crime and the defendant.
  4. Implement legislative “safety valves.”  Sentencing safety valves are laws created by Congress or a state legislature that let courts give an offender less time in prison than the mandatory minimum requires, but only if the offender or his offense meets certain special requirements. Read FAMM’s fact sheet on federal and state safety valves.

Help us make these reforms a reality! Take action to change laws.