FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jessica Breslin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-822-6700
WASHINGTON — Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) Vice President Kevin Ring congratulated state lawmakers in Maryland today for passing legislation to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenders. The legislation also permits those sentenced to drug mandatory minimums in the past to go back to court and seek a shorter sentence. The bill, known as the Justice Reinvestment Act, was the product of months of negotiations between stakeholders in the state’s criminal justice system.
“Maryland’s leaders just get it. They have made progress in recent years to reduce both the state’s crime rate and prison population. The commonsense reforms enacted yesterday should help Maryland continue these positive trends into the future,” said Ring, who testified before the Maryland House of Delegates on March 4 in favor of repealing mandatory sentences for all drug offenses.
Ring continued, “Polls show that Maryland voters support reforming mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Yesterday’s vote proves that lawmakers are listening to their constituents.” In November, FAMM released a poll in which an overwhelming 70% of likely voters responded that they favored repealing mandatory minimums for non-violent drug offenses. A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released just last week found the exact same level of support.
Last year, Maryland enacted a FAMM-supported “safety valve” law that gave judges discretion to depart below mandatory minimum sentences in cases where the minimum was not necessary to protect public safety. The bill passed yesterday would apply that law to those who were sentenced before it was enacted and eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for future, low-level offenders. The bill also eliminates the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences.
FAMM is the nation’s preeminent organization working for sentencing reform and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.