Why Should I Care?

Facts image

 Public Safety

  • 17 states cut their prison populations over the past decade. All 17 experienced a decline in crime rates.
  • Half of all federal prisoners are locked up for nonviolent drug offenses.
  • In 2010, Minnesota saved nearly 1,200 prison beds and $37.5 million thanks to a sentencing safety valve, without jeopardizing public safety.
  • A Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission study found that long, mandatory minimum sentences do not reduce crime.

The Cost

  • State spending on corrections has risen more than 300 percent over the past two decades. 
  • Taxpayers spent almost $60 billion on prisons and jails in 2012 alone.

Drain on Law Enforcement

  • Growing prison populations and costs require the Department of Justice to cut funding for crime-fighting personnel and equipment.
  • One of every four Department of Justice dollars is spent on locking up mostly nonviolent offenders in federal prisons.

Sentencing Fairness

  • “Our federal mandatory minimum sentences are simply heavy-handed and arbitrary…we should not have laws that ruin the lives of young men and women who have committed no violence.” –U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
  • “In addition to driving up our prison population, mandatory minimum penalties can lead to terribly unjust results in individual cases.”—U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
  • One in every 28 children now has a parent in jail or prison.

What the Public Wants

  • Sixty percent of Americans now oppose laws mandating minimum prison terms for nonviolent crimes such as drug possession.
  • 84 percent of Americans agree: “Some of the money that we are spending on locking up low-risk, nonviolent inmates should be shifted to strengthening community corrections programs like probation and parole.” 

To see the facts about mandatory minimums with sources click here.

Successful Reforms

 More than 200,000 people have benefited from sentencing reforms championed by FAMM since 1991.

Over 85,700 federal prisoners received sentences below the mandatory minimum term because they benefited from the drug safety valve, passed by Congress in 1994 at FAMM’s urging.

Over 69,700 federal prisoners have received sentences below the term called for by the federal sentencing guidelines, which the U.S. Supreme Court made advisory in United States v. Booker in 2005.  FAMM filed a “friend of the court” brief in the case.

Over 23,500 federal crack offenders received sentence reductions after FAMM’s advocacy convinced the U.S. Sentencing Commission to make its changes to crack sentencing guideline retroactive.

Over 5,800 people received fairer sentences for crack cocaine offenses under the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, a reform FAMM helped push through Congress.

Over 5,400 additional federal crack offenders with pending appeals became eligible to benefit from the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 because of FAMM’s advocacy for Department of Justice policy changes and our involvement in a U.S. Supreme Court case, Dorsey v. United States.

Over 8,200 people have received fairer sentences since FAMM successfully lobbied the Michigan Legislature to repeal mandatory minimum drug sentences.

Over 2,900 people received sentences below the mandatory minimum term based on FAMM-suggested reforms to New Jersey’s drug school zone law.

65 elderly federal prisoners were released early because of the elderly offender release program in the Second Chance Act of 2007, a bill FAMM supported.

550 county drug offenders in Massachusetts received parole eligibility after FAMM advocated for passage of a reform bill in the General Assembly.