Press Release

FAMM Justice Reform Fellow Matthew Charles to Testify Before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

Rabiah Burks, 202-822-6700

FAMM Fellow Matthew Charles to Testify Before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee  

WASHINGTON – FAMM Justice Reform Fellow Matthew Charles will testify today during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Examining Federal Sentencing for Crack and Powder Cocaine.” Charles will urge Congress to pass the EQUAL Act, a law that would completely eliminate the disparity in sentences for crimes involving crack and powder cocaine.

In Charles’s written testimony, he urges Congress to end the disparity that forced him (and many others) to serve additional years if not decades in federal prison.

“What was clearest of all to us – a fact we saw every day inside prison – was that the stiffer penalties for crack were being applied disproportionately to Black people,” said Charles.  “They have been given very extensive sentences, including life or multiple life sentences for nonviolent offenses involving crack cocaine. We know the harm these excessive sentences cause to our children, our families, and our communities.”

You can read Charles’s testimony here:
Statement of Matthew Charles, Justice Reform Fellow, FAMM
Hearing on “Examining Federal Sentencing for Crack and Powder Cocaine”
Senate Judiciary Committee

FAMM played an active role in securing passage of the Fair Sentencing Act in 2010, which reduced the crack-powder disparity from 100:1 to 18:1. FAMM also pushed Congress to make the new 18:1 disparity retroactive in the First Step Act, a reform that has reduced excessive sentences for more than 3,600 people, more than 90 percent of whom were Black.

For nearly three decades, FAMM has united the voices of affected families, the formerly incarcerated, and a range of stakeholders and advocates to fight for a more fair and effective justice system. FAMM’s focus on ending a one-size-fits-all punishment structure has led to reforms to sentencing and prison policies at the state and federal level and is paving the way to programs that support rehabilitation for the 94% of all prisoners who will return to our neighborhoods one day.


FAMM is a national nonpartisan advocacy organization that promotes fair and effective criminal justice policies that safeguard taxpayer dollars and keep our communities safe. Founded in 1991, FAMM is helping transform America’s criminal justice system by uniting the voices of impacted families and individuals and elevating the issues all across the country.