To: All interested parties
From: Kevin Ring, FAMM President
Date: August 8, 2018
Re: Meet the new FAMM: Building on our mission to fix the nation’s broken criminal justice policies with a new program to organize affected families
The future of criminal justice reform is up for grabs. While dozens of states have passed smart-on-crime reforms over the past two decades, our country remains the world’s largest jailer. Communities and families have been needlessly harmed by counterproductive sentencing and prison policies. One in 28 children has an incarcerated parent. While bolder reform is needed, we recognize that a fearmongering U.S. attorney general and truly frightening drug overdose epidemic threaten the progress we’ve achieved.
The time has come for those who support deep and lasting criminal justice reform to build a stronger movement, a movement that is informed and led by those directly impacted by unfair laws and policies. We must build a critical mass of grassroots supporters so that policymakers know that their constituents care about justice reform and are willing to hold their elected representatives accountable for their failure to act.
FAMM is uniquely suited to meet this challenge. Every week we are in contact with more than 40,000 current prisoners and thousands of affected families. This past year, we’ve made some internal changes that will allow us to expand far beyond anything we have done in the past. These changes were made possible in large part due to a generous capacity-building grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
FAMM Advocates Program will unite families to call for critical reforms
Today, FAMM is launching its first-ever FAMM Advocates Program & Justice Now Action Center, through which we will expand our efforts to identify, engage, and mobilize families affected by our nation’s broken criminal justice policies. We have partnered with 270 Strategies, a team of political-organizing and digital communications veterans of the Obama campaigns, to develop a viable and sustainable model that can utilize the power of affected families and individuals.
The new FAMM Advocates Program will encourage affected family members and other supporters to engage with us through social media, share their stories, build public support for reform, and more. Through the program our supporters will learn how to become action-oriented advocates equipped and empowered to engage with lawmakers and the public in support of criminal justice reform. FAMM’s Justice Now Action Center provides online resources and support to people across the nation who want to become advocates in their own communities.
All of these elements have been put in place to ensure that FAMM dramatically expands the number of affected families who are able to advocate for change. It is our long-term goal to create and sustain nationwide change to our sentencing and prison policies through engagement, education, and advocacy. FAMM’s national organizing program will begin in Pennsylvania.
FAMM has hired Tanesha Williams, Director of Organizing and Community Building to lead this effort. Williams works with affected families and advocates to turn the resources they have into the power they need to reform our justice system. Williams is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center where she was a Public Interest Fellow. As a member of the Criminal Defense and Prisoner Advocacy Clinic, she advocated for clients at DC Superior Court and before the Maryland Parole Commission. She was the recipient of the clinic’s inaugural Patsy Kelly Jarrett/Craig Muhammad Prisoner Advocacy Award.
From ‘Families Against Mandatory Minimums’ to FAMM, name change reflects broader organizational goals
FAMM also announced that it was changing its name from Families Against Mandatory Minimums to FAMM, effective August 8, 2018. The change reflects the reality of the scope of the organization’s work for several years.
FAMM will always fight to end mandatory minimum sentences, but over the last several years our work has had a much wider focus. This new more inclusive name reflects that reality. Whether it was our work on mandatory minimums, or on a range of other issues to reform the criminal justice system, the underlying motivation of our work is to strengthen families. Family members have also been our strongest spokespeople and fiercest advocates. We look forward to supporting them as FAMM.
When FAMM was established 27 years ago its principle mission was abolishing mandatory minimum sentences. In order to accomplish the goals of justice, responsibility and accountability, the organization has expanded its scope of work to include a broader set of issues affecting the incarcerated and their families such as prison reform, clemency, and compassionate release.