PA HeaderBackground:

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.


Kevin Ring
Vice President, FAMM
Phone: (202) 822-6700 Ext. 109

News & Updates

August 23, 2016

FAMM Urges Review of Pennsylvania Sentencing Laws

Contact: Leila McDowelllmcdowell@famm.org202.822.6700 Leading National Sentencing Reform Group Calls for Review of Pennsylvania’s Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws Joins National, State Advocates in Seeking Review by Justice Reinvestment Working Group WASHINGTON — FAMM today sent a letter to Pennsylvania’s Justice Reinvestment Working Group, comprising 34 members from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches and chaired by Josh… Read more »

March 15, 2016

Senator Greenleaf Hosts Roundtable Discussion on Mandatory Minimums

Moderated by FAMM’s vice president Kevin Ring, Senator Greenleaf joined Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and former New York City police commissioner, Bernard Kerik to discuss the impact of mandatory minimum sentences. Click here to watch a recording of the event. ( — Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee,… Read more »

December 1, 2015

Pennsylvania Voters Oppose Mandatory Minimum Sentences, According to New Poll

Voters Think State Spends Too Much on Jail, Not Enough on Rehabilitation WASHINGTON, DC – Families Against Mandatory Minimum (FAMM) President Julie Stewart today released the results of a new poll of likely Pennsylvania voters, which revealed strong opposition to mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent offenses.  (See below for a presentation of the results, or… Read more »

November 9, 2015

Pennsylvania’s Lawmakers Missed the Memo on Sentencing Reform

(PennLive) — Across the country, lawmakers in both parties agree that it’s time for sentencing reform. Pennsylvania’s lawmakers must have missed the memo, based on a recent op-ed by Pat Nolan and Julie Stewart. Tax dollars should be spent on hiring more police officers and protecting the community from truly dangerous people, not on sentencing policies that… Read more »