Sentencing reform still needed
Media Contact: Mike Riggs, Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) commends President Obama for commuting (reducing) the federal prison sentences of eight people today, and for pardoning 12 others.
Julie Stewart, president and founder of FAMM, issued the following statement in response to today’s commutations:
“These lucky few commutation recipients are living proof of what people of all parties have now been saying for years: we’re locking up too many nonviolent drug offenders for too long, at too high a cost.”
Prisoners granted commutations today include long-standing FAMM member Barbra Scrivner, who received a 30-year sentence for assisting her then-husband by delivering methamphetamine he had sold to others. At the time of the offense, Ms. Scrivner was addicted to methamphetamine. In prison, she attained and maintained sobriety and earned a college degree. After commutation, she will have served 19 years in prison, at a cost of $551,000 to taxpayers.
“Barbra and the other commutation recipients are the kinds of people we take away from spouses and children for decades at a time,” says Stewart. “These are the kinds of people we spend 30 percent of the federal crime-fighting budget on each year, instead of funding better crime prevention programs or restoring victims. And unless Congress acts, we’ll keep sending thousands just like them to federal prisons for decades on the taxpayer’s dime.”
Barbra’s clemency petition has the support of her judge, two former U.S. Attorneys, and Congressman Earl Blumenauer.
A recent statement from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) listed federal prison costs and overcrowding as the agency’s top challenge for 2015. Federal prisons consume 30 percent of the entire DOJ budget and are currently at 133 percent of their capacity, and half of all inmates are drug offenders. Despite this, the 113th Congress failed to pass several drug sentencing reform bills – the Smarter Sentencing Act (S. 1410/H.R. 3382) and the Justice Safety Valve Act (S. 619/H.R. 1695) – that have wide bipartisan support and would, if enacted, reduce federal prison populations and costs slowly but dramatically over the next 20 years, according to the DOJ.
FAMM unites people of all parties and political persuasions around the need for fair, just sentencing laws that are fiscally responsible, enhance public safety, protect individual liberty, and strengthen families. Visit famm.org for more information.