For Media Inquiries:
Rabiah Burks, 202-822-6700
FAMM urges passage of three federal justice reform bills
WASHINGTON – FAMM supports the passage of three new criminal justice bills that will be considered Thursday by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee: the First Step Implementation Act of 2021; the COVID-19 Safer Detention Act of 2021; and the Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act of 2021.
“We strongly supported the First Step Act and have been heartened to see thousands of people return home earlier to their families,” said FAMM President Kevin Ring. “But Congress has more work to do. These bills include commonsense reforms to make our federal justice system fairer and make our communities safer.”
The First Step Implementation Act of 2021 would allow courts to individually review cases and provide new sentences in line with the reforms in the First Step Act. Many FAMM members currently serving sentences that are no longer on the books have been waiting since the passage of the First Step Act to have an opportunity to have their sentences reconsidered.
No one should get stuck with an unjust sentence based on something as arbitrary as the day they went to court. This bill gives people the chance, but not the guarantee, of getting a fair sentence. FAMM previously expressed support for the First Step Implementation Act in March.
The COVID-19 Safer Detention Act of 2021 would make desperately needed clarifications to the compassionate release and Elderly Home Detention Pilot programs to address the fact that the elderly are the fastest growing portion of the prison population, despite having much lower rates of recidivism and much higher costs associated with their incarceration.
To address the urgency of the pandemic, the COVID-19 Safer Detention Act would also temporarily cut red tape and expedite compassionate release reviews, ensuring vulnerable people remain safe before it’s too late. For the most vulnerable people in BOP custody, every day could mean the difference between life and death.
The Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act of 2021 would prevent unjust results and bring our sentencing laws into line with the meaning and intention of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. While the amendments require the government to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, current sentencing law allows judges to “veto” a not guilty verdict by punishing defendants for conduct of which they have been acquitted by a jury of their peers.
FAMM has long decried the use of acquitted conduct at sentencing and has repeatedly urged the United States Sentencing Commission to abandon its use.
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.