2016: One ALEC member who used the safety valve model was Maryland State Senator Michael Hough. He helped push through the Maryland legislature the broadest safety valve law in the country. The new law has had the practical effect of making mandatory minimum laws no longer mandatory. Judges are free to depart from a mandatory minimum in any drug case in which the court thinks the minimum is not needed to protect public safety or would result in a substantial injustice to the defendant.

FAMM remains engaged in Maryland and helped move the Justice Reinvestment Act, a bill that eliminates the crack and powder cocaine disparity as well as eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for low-level offenders. The bill was signed into law by Governor Hogan on May 19, 2016. Learn more about what the Justice Reinvestment Act does by clicking here.

While in Maryland for the bill signing, FAMM sat down with Senator Michael Hough (R) and Delegate Erek Barron (D) to discuss the need for sentencing reform. Despite their partisan differences, the Justice Reinvestment Act has brought two parties together to better our criminal justice system.

Check out this poll that showed an overwhelming 70% of Maryland residents support repealing mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.

2012: FAMM joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a national organization of conservative state lawmakers. Our goal was to help ALEC develop a new approach to criminal justice issues, including to mandatory minimum sentencing laws. This effort was successful. ALEC recently adopted a model safety valve bill for conservative lawmakers to use in reforming their state mandatory sentencing laws.

How You Can Advocate for Sentencing Reform in Your State

You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.

Encourage your state lawmakers to support mandatory minimum sentencing reform. Be sure to connect with FAMM and other sentencing reformers on Facebook, Twitter, and by signing up for our email list.

Sentencing/Criminal Justice Reform Groups in this State:

July 25, 2017

FAMM Testimony Urges Baltimore to Remove Mandatory Minimum Sentence from Handgun Bill

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 25, 2017 Contact: Rabiah Burks 202.822.6700 FAMM Testimony Urges Baltimore to Remove Mandatory Minimum Sentence from Handgun Bill   WASHINGTON – FAMM President Kevin Ring submitted testimony today to the Baltimore City Council Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee in which he expressed opposition to the proposed one-year mandatory minimum jail sentence for illegal… Read more »

July 25, 2017

Joint Statement: Baltimore City Council Should Reject Mandatory Minimum Sentence

  Joint Statement: Baltimore City Council Should Reject Mandatory Minimum Sentence WASHINGTON – Today, the following criminal justice and civil rights organizations issued this joint statement in response to Baltimore City’s proposed handgun safety law, which will be debated before the City Council on Tuesday, July 25, and contains a mandatory minimum sentence of one… Read more »

March 6, 2017

Maryland’s Bail System Gets a Major Overhaul

Originally seen in Governing.  Maryland’s highest court adopted a landmark rule Tuesday aimed at ending the practice of holding criminal defendants in jail before trial when they cannot afford bail. The seven-member Court of Appeals unanimously agreed on a compromise that does not abolish money bail, as some advocates have urged, but instructs judges and… Read more »

February 9, 2017

Baltimore Will Steer Some Drug Offenders to Treatment—Not Jail

Originally seen in Wall Street Journal.  BALTIMORE—Long burdened by one of the worst heroin problems in the U.S., Baltimore is joining a small but growing number of cities where police can divert low-level drug offenders to treatment, rather than send them to jail. The move toward a diversion program—before an offender is booked on charges—is the… Read more »