Issues by State

States across the country are realizing that growing prison populations and costs are the result of adopting mandatory minimum sentencing laws and prison policies that keep people behind bars too long without increasing public safety.

See the states we’re currently working in below. You can jump straight to a given state by clicking its name.

Alabama Capitol Thumbnail

Alabama

FAMM is working in Alabama in 2024, after building in 2023 alongside state partners. Our work is focused on independent prison oversight and second look sentencing. To get involved in our work in Alabama, sign up for our emails and contact our Director of State Policy, Maria Goellner, at mgoellner@famm.org.

Arizona Thumbail 2

Arizona

FAMM has been working in Arizona since 2019 and will continue in 2024. We are working closely with incredible local advocates and coalition partners to support Home Confinement and Prison Oversight. Arizona has some of the harshest sentencing laws in the country, and its prison system has been mired in scandal and disorder for more than a decade. A federal court recently declared that Arizona’s prison healthcare is so deficient it violates the Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Arizona prisons desperately need oversight. To get involved in Arizona, sign up for our emails, or contact Bryan Widenhouse, Senior Policy Associate, at bwidenhouse@famm.org.

A view of the California State Capitol in Sacramento.  Designed by Miner Frederick Butler and constructed between 1860 and 1874, the building was completely reconstructed between 1975 and 1982 after a study revealed that the building might not have survived an earthquake.  The Classical Revival structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a California Historic Landmark.

California

FAMM began working in California in 2021 to repeal the state's mandatory minimums for a number of drug offenses. FAMM supported the successful passage of SB 73 by Sen. Scott Wiener which eliminated mandatory minimums for certain drug offenses while creating a safety valve for others. Read our summary of SB 73 to learn more.

In 2022, FAMM was a co-sponsor of AB 960, which was passed by the legislature and took effect in January 2023. AB 960 has vastly improved California’s Compassionate Release process by streamlining the decision making process, expanding medical eligibility, and ensuring every medically eligible individual receives their day in court. Read a summary of AB 960 here.

In 2023, FAMM supported two reforms to increase opportunities for second chances in California. The first bill would provide people sentenced to life without parole or given the death penalty the opportunity for resentencing after 20 years if they were sentenced prior to June 5, 1990. The second bill would provide most people sentenced to indeterminate life sentences an opportunity for parole after serving 15 years if they committed their offense before their 26th birthday.

In 2024, FAMM will continue supporting the second look bill which was introduced last year, as well as media access to prisons.

To get involved in our work in California, sign up for our emails and contact our Senior Policy Associate, Bryan Widenhouse, at bwidenhouse@famm.org.

Drone view of the Illinois State Capitol, in Springfield. Illinois State Capitol houses the legislative and executive branches of the government of the U.S. state of Illinois

Illinois

FAMM will continue to work in Illinois in 2024. FAMM began working in Illinois in 2021, supporting legislation to advance our national Second Chances Agenda. In the 2021 legislature, we supported successful legislation to create a compassionate release mechanism. FAMM supports reinstating parole eligibility in Illinois’ sentencing system for those serving very lengthy sentences. People can change, but Illinois’ current law doesn’t give people a chance to show that they have grown, matured, are not a danger to others, and are ready to return home.

Read why every Illinois lawmaker should #VisitAPrison.

"Maryland State Capitol" by jimmywayne is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd-nc/2.0/jp/?ref=openverse.

Maryland

The 2024 Maryland legislative session has adjourned.  FAMM is so excited that Gov. Wes Moore signed independent prison oversight into law (Chapter 836) on May 16, 2024, establishing the Office of the Correctional Ombudsman in Maryland!  FAMM thanks all of the organizations, advocates, impacted people, and lawmakers who worked so diligently to make independent oversight of Maryland’s prisons a reality.

FAMM is continuing to work with partners and stakeholders in Maryland in the interim to help educate the public and lawmakers about the need for reform. Maryland has a large, expensive prison system, and we look forward to working with partners to ensure the newly-created  Office of the Correctional Ombudsman is successful in its goals. Maryland also has the third worst compassionate release system in the country. FAMM is supporting reforms to compassionate release that streamline the application process and allow more elderly and ill people in state prisons to easily be considered for release when they are not a danger to public safety.  FAMM is also supporting second look laws in Maryland to allow more people the opportunity for relief from excessive incarceration.  To get involved in our work in Maryland, sign up for our emails and contact our Deputy Director of State Policy, Celeste Trusty, at ctrusty@famm.org.

Michigan State Capitol, by  David Marvin

Michigan

FAMM continues to work in Michigan in 2024. We have been active in the state several times in past decades, including on mandatory minimum sentencing reform. Our work this year is focused on independent prison oversight and compassionate release. To get involved in our work in Michigan, sign up for our emails and contact our State Director of Policy, Maria Goellner, at mgoellner@famm.org.

Missouri Thumbnail

Missouri

FAMM is working in Missouri in 2024, after an active year in 2023 and successful mandatory minimum sentencing reform in 2019. Our work focuses on ending the crack powder sentencing disparity, second look through compassionate release, independent prison oversight, and mandatory minimum sentencing reform.

Pennsylvania State House Capit

Pennsylvania

FAMM continues to work in Pennsylvania in 2024.  Pennsylvania has the highest incarceration rate in the Northeastern U.S. and the second-highest number of people serving life without parole sentences in the country. In 2015, the state’s Supreme Court struck down its mandatory minimum laws as unconstitutional. Since then, FAMM has opposed efforts to reinstate mandatory minimum sentences. FAMM also supports reforms to life without parole sentences, increased use of early release for elderly and ill people in prison, more use of executive clemency, prison mail policies that keep families connected, and more. By implementing evidence-based sentencing reforms, state lawmakers can save taxpayer dollars or redirect those savings to proven alternatives to reduce crime and recidivism. To get involved in our work in Pennsylvania, sign up for our emails and contact our Deputy Director of State Policy, Celeste Trusty, at ctrusty@famm.org.

TN Tennessee Capital Banner

Tennessee

FAMM continues to work in Tennessee in 2024, building on prior years. FAMM successfully supported reforms to Tennessee’s overly broad and excessive mandatory minimum sentences for drug-free school zone offenses in 2020, and making those reforms retroactive in 2022. Hundreds of people in Tennessee became eligible for resentencing because of these retroactive reforms. Our 2024 work focuses on prison oversight and mandatory minimum sentencing reform. 

Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia, USA.

Virginia

FAMM is continuing its work in Virginia in 2024. FAMM has been active in Virginia since 2021. Virginia has a large, expensive prison system that lacks basic transparency and accountability to the public, lawmakers, and taxpayers. Virginia also has some of the longest sentences in the country and lengthy time-served requirements that keep people in prison past the point at which they are rehabilitated and not a danger to anyone. Our work has focused on educating the public and lawmakers on independent prison oversight, second look sentencing, and mandatory minimum sentencing reform.

A view of the Washington Legislative Building, part of the Washington State Capitol campus, in Olympia.  Designed by the firm of Wilder & White and completed in 1928, the American Renaissance structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Washington

FAMM is continuing its work in Washington state during the 2024 legislative session. FAMM has been active in Washington since 2022. FAMM has worked to educate lawmakers and the public on second look sentencing and retroactive sentencing reform. Our work has focused on issues related to people who were young (under the age of 25) at the time of their offense and the impact that had on their decision making at the time of their offense and what that means for their sentencing.

Don't See Your State?

We are working across the U.S. Email us at famm@famm.org to see what we're working on in your state.