FAMMilies for Justice Reform: Empower. Advocate. Win. | FAMM

Join us in Tampa, Florida, as we bring together advocates, organizations, and people impacted by the criminal justice system.

FAMMilies for Justice Reform: Empower. Advocate. Win.

May 17-19, 2019

Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, Tampa, Florida

View the Current Schedule

Now is the time to empower advocates, organizations, and affected families with tools to advocate criminal justice reform locally and nationally.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and stay up to date with the conference. During the conference, make sure to use the hashtag #FAMM4Reform19

Let’s work together to fight failing policies that do not make our communities safer or our families stronger. Together, we can WIN!

Questions? Read our FAQ.


Veda Ajamu

For years, Veda Ajamu has been on the frontlines fighting for freedom and justice for her brother and others who have received harsh sentences for nonviolent offenses. Veda is the focus of a video produced by FAMM, “Veda Ajamu: Warrior for Justice,” and has been featured in national media outlets, including NBC Nightly News regarding her advocacy for her brother. Veda joined the National Civil Rights Museum in 2010, where she serves as Manager of Community Outreach.

Matthew Charles

Matthew Charles is the first beneficiary of the First Step Act. In 2016, he received early release and turned his life around, but was sent back to serve more than a decade more in May of 2018 because the court had made an error in releasing him. His case made national headlines and sparked calls for clemency. Finally, on Jan. 3, 2019, he was released again as a result of the passage of the First Step Act. Matthew was acknowledged in President Trump’s remarks at the 2019 State of the Union Address, which he attended as a guest. Read more about Matthew Charles in FAMM’s story about him: Saved by the First Step Act.

Desmond Meade

Desmond Meade is a formerly homeless returning citizen who overcame many obstacles to eventually become the current executive director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC), chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy, chair of the Florida Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s Black Men’s Roundtable, and a graduate of Florida International University College of Law. Desmond led the successful “Amendment 4” campaign, which established voting rights for more than 1.4 million Floridians with prior felony convictions.

Desmond has testified before Congress and was a part of a delegation to the United Nations, where he gave testimony regarding disenfranchisement in Florida. He is a frequent guest and contributor on national news outlets.

Cynthia Shank

Cynthia Shank is a criminal justice advocate and proud mother of three daughters. In 2008, she got a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for failing to report the crimes of her deceased ex-boyfriend six years earlier. Her story and her family’s painful struggle is documented in the HBO documentary “The Sentence,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018.The film was directed by her brother, Rudy Valdez, who will be joining her to talk about the movie and their experience.

Rudy Valdez

Rudy Valdez is a Michigan-raised, Brooklyn-based filmmaker. He got his start as a camera operator on the Peabody Award-winning Sundance Channel series “Brick City,” and has worked as a cinematographer for directors and producers such as Sebastian Junger, Whoopi Goldberg, Geeta Gandbhir and Sam Pollard. Ten years in the making, “The Sentence” is his directorial debut.

Anyé Young

Through her work as an advocate, 17-year-old Anyé Young aims to motivate and empower children who have parents in prison to speak up to promote prison reform and do away with mandatory minimum sentencing on a national level.

At 16 years of age and a rising high school senior, Anyé Young self-published her first book on Father’s Day 2018: Teen Guide to Living With Incarcerated Parents (#TGLWIP). The book guides teens with parents in prison with tips, morals, and coping mechanisms. It also offers a glimpse into her life as a teen still coping with the fact that her father is serving a 12-year prison sentence. Learn more about Anyé Young by reading her story: Speaking Out and Breaking a Vicious Cycle.

We’ll also be joined by some great organizations working for reform, including:

  • Middle Ground Prison Reform (Ariz.)
  • Pennsylvania Prison Society (Penn.)
  • The John Howard Association (Ill.)
  • Texas Inmate Families Association (Texas)
  • Texas Prison Advocates (Texas)
  • Citizens for Prison Reform (Mich.)
  • American Friends Service Committee (Ariz.)
  • Extended Family (Ala.)
  • Florida Cares (Fla.)

Frequently Asked Questions

If you’ve got additional questions, email us at famm@famm.org. We can’t wait to see you.