Tomorrow, the Pennsylvania House may take up legislation to reinstate mandatory minimum sentencing laws. We at FAMM think that’s a bad idea. Today we are releasing a new video to help educate policymakers about why individualized, evidence-based approaches to sentencing are preferable to mandatory sentencing regimes. Share if you agree, especially if you are a #PA resident who knows the dangers of mandatory sentencing.
On June 15, 2015, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an opinion that found unconstitutional the state’s Drug Free School Zones Act, which set mandatory minimum sentences for selling drugs near schools. The court’s reasoning applies to nearly all of the state’s drug- and gun-related mandatory minimum sentencing laws and therefore invalidates those mandatory sentencing laws, too.
Mandatory minimum sentencing laws have not made Pennsylvanians safer. They have not reduced or deterred crime. Indeed, after performing a comprehensive analysis of state mandatory minimum laws, the independent Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing concluded in 2009, “Neither length of sentence, nor the imposition of the mandatory sentence per se, was a predictor of recidivism.” The Commission also stated that offenders are not deterred by mandatory sentences because they do not know which crimes carry them.
While lengthy mandatory sentences have not enhanced public safety, they have helped to drive Pennsylvania’s prison population from 8,000 in 1980 to more than 50,000 in 2013. The state now spends more than $2 billion annually on corrections.
FAMM seeks to prevent reenactment of costly, counterproductive mandatory minimums. Instead, we support alternatives that are tough on crime without being tough on families and taxpayers.
FAMM’s Legislative Priorities: For information on problems with Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum laws, and FAMM’s proposals to fix them, click here.
Originally published 4/12/17 at Philly.com Back in January, Municipal Court Judge Marsha Neifield was undertaking a radical experiment in criminal-justice reform from the otherwise drab confines of an 11th-floor courtroom in the Criminal Justice Center. There were no major criminal cases on her docket — just addicts, small-time drug dealers, and a man accused of… Read more »
Statement of Kevin Ring President, Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) Before the Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee May 22, 2017 Chairman Greenleaf, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify at this hearing. Most of all, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for holding this hearing in the first place. All… Read more »
Originally seen in PennLive Most Pennsylvanians would agree that ensuring public safety is what they want most from the criminal justice system. When it comes to law and order we are all willing to pay to be safe, and we recognize that decisions about public safety must never be made based simply on balancing budgets. At… Read more »
Originally seen in Philly.com In 2015, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found the state’s mandatory minimum sentences to be illegal — with a single, 3-2 ruling eradicating a favorite tool of prosecutors and a longtime target of criminal-justice reformers. Now, a Montgomery County legislator is on a mission to resuscitate them. Republican State Rep. Todd Stephens, himself a former… Read more »