FAMM spearheaded major mandatory minimum sentencing law reforms in Michigan between 1996 and 2010.
FAMM finished its Michigan campaign by working to convince lawmakers to build on the successful 1998 and 2002 reforms of Michigan’s harsh mandatory minimum drug sentences. In May 2008, the long-awaited sentencing reform package was introduced. On May 19, 2009, the Michigan House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to pass the FAMM reform package, House Bills 4918, 4919, 4920 and 4921. Bills 4918, 4920, and 4921 all passed with a unanimous 109-0 vote. The only bill that did not receive a unanimous vote, 4919, passed overwhelmingly by a vote of 107-2.
Bills 4918, 4919, and 4920 were signed by the governor and went into effect on December 29, 2010. Click here to read about this sentencing reform victory.
Those with questions about whether they or a loved one might benefit from the new laws should contact a lawyer. FAMM cannot provide legal advice or assistance to its members.
Happy Anniversary, Michigan Reforms:
Ten Years After Major Sentencing Reform Victory, Michigan Residents Safer
Michigan FAMM updates
FAMM’s Guide to Michigan sentencing reforms (pdf)
Read FAMM's Michigan Profiles of Injustice:
Background on Michigan mandatory minimum drug law reforms
In 1978, Michigan enacted the harshest mandatory sentences in the nation, including the notorious “650 Lifer Law.” This law mandated life in prison without parole for offenders convicted of delivery of over 650 grams of heroin or cocaine. Harsh mandatory sentences were also established for lesser offenses. In 1987, the Michigan legislature adopted another type of mandatory sentencing law (consecutive sentences). Sentences for drug offenses, unlike most other serious crimes, had to be served consecutively to any term of imprisonment for another felony.
In 1996, FAMM spearheaded a broad coalition of citizens and organizations calling for reform of the “650 Lifer Law.” Two years later, Gov. John Engler signed modifications of the law that eliminated life without parole and provided parole eligibility to “650 Lifers.”
In 2002, FAMM spearheaded a campaign that lead to even greater reforms of Michigan’s state sentencing laws. A three-bill package, effective March 1, 2003, gave 1,200 prisoners serving long mandatory sentences earlier parole eligibility, repealed mandatory minimums for almost all drug offenses, abolished lifetime probation, and created sentencing guidelines for drug offenses that more closely fit the punishment to the crime and the individual defendant.
In 2004, FAMM joined a coalition that successfully worked to expand access to drug courts.
In 2010, FAMM led a successful movement to expand parole eligibility for people sentenced under the pre-2003 mandatory minimum drug laws in Michigan.
Does the state have mandatory minimum sentencing laws? Yes. Click here to learn more.
Does the state have a sentencing commission? No. Michigan had a Sentencing Commission from 1994-1998, but the state does not currently have an active sentencing commission. Click here to learn more.
Does the state have sentencing guidelines? Yes, the “Michigan Sentencing Guidelines.”
If yes, are the sentencing guidelines voluntary/advisory or mandatory? The minimum sentence the court can impose must be within the appropriate guideline sentencing range that was in effect at the time the crime was committed.
Does the state have drug courts? Yes. Click here to learn more.
Does the state have one or more safety valves/exceptions? Yes. Click here to learn more. To learn more about safety valves, read FAMM's factsheet, Safety Valves in a Nutshell.
Governor Rick Snyder
Michigan Department of Corrections
Michigan Parole Board
Michigan Executive Clemency (pardons and commutations): Handled by Michigan Parole Board.
Michigan Court System
Michigan Drug Courts
Want help finding a lawyer in this state? Click here or contact the local association of criminal defense lawyers. You can learn more about how to work with an attorney by reading our answers to frequently asked questions.
Want to search this state’s laws? Click here
Want to find out how a bill becomes a law in this state? Click here
Want to find your state legislative representatives? Click here
Want to work on changing the laws in your state? Learn how through our Citizen Action Kit!
Sentencing/Criminal Justice Reform Groups in the State
ACLU of Michigan
The Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending (CAPPS)
DISCLAIMER: FAMM does not endorse or support and is not affiliated with any of the attorneys, organizations, or sites listed on this page. FAMM cannot guarantee that the laws listed on its website or the content appearing on any of the links listed on this page are accurate or fully up-to-date. Laws change often, and before taking any action in reliance on the information presented on FAMM’s website or on the sites linked to on this page, you should always verify that the information is still accurate or talk with an attorney. If you feel you need legal advice, you should seek the help of an attorney in your state. FAMM cannot provide legal advice, representation, research, or referrals.