FAMM is advocating federal mandatory minimum sentencing reforms, prison oversight, and our Second Chances Agenda in the 118th Congress, which begins on January 3, 2021, and runs until January 3, 2025. As reform bills are introduced in Congress, FAMM’s summaries and positions on them will be posted below. Contact Daniel Landsman, our Deputy Director of Policy, at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance with legislation.
Learn More About Pending Bills
We stand ready to help members of Congress on the following kinds of sentencing and prison reforms:
The EQUAL Act (S. 524/H.R. 1062)
This bipartisan piece of legislation would finally end the long-standing sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses. The bill would also apply retroactively, granting over 7,000 people an opportunity to be reunited with their families.
Federal Prison Oversight Act (H.R. 3019/S. 1401
For too long, the federal Bureau of Prisons has operated without meaningful, independent oversight. The Federal Prison Oversight Act is a bipartisan bill that would require regular independent investigations of all BOP facilities and create an Ombudsman to investigate individual complaints submitted by incarcerated individuals, their loved ones, or staff.
The HALT Fentanyl Act (H.R. 467) – This bill would permanently schedule fentanyl related substances on schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act (meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical value). This wide scale scheduling of unknown substances would apply mandatory minimum sentences to a broad range of drugs that the federal government does not yet understand in terms of impact and safety.
COVID-19 Safer Detention Act
The COVID-19 Safer Detention Act would improve the federal Elderly Home Detention Pilot program and compassionate release process during the COVID-19 pandemic. This urgent and timely bill would increase eligibility in these programs and expedite releases from federal prison during the pandemic. FAMM supports this bill.
Emergency GRACE Act
The Emergency Grants of Release And Compassion Effectively Act of 2020 (Emergency GRACE Act) would expedite grants of compassionate release during the COVID-19 pandemic by allowing people in federal prisons to make direct petitions to the court without waiting for typical deadlines. It is especially important during a pandemic to be able to process these requests as quickly as possible. FAMM supports this bill.
Federal Sentencing Reform
The EQUAL Act: Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate that would eliminate the federal crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparity and apply it retroactively to those already convicted or sentenced. This bill would end one of the most disproportionate provisions in federal sentencing law. FAMM supports this bill.
The First Step Implementation Act: Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would retroactively apply major sentencing reforms from the First Step Act of 2018, provide judges in future cases increased discretion to give sentences below mandatory minimums, and provide people sentenced as youth the opportunity to have lengthy sentences reconsidered. FAMM supports this bill.
- Read our summary of the First Step Implementation Act
- Take action to support the First Step Implementation Act
- Read more about the First Step Implementation Act in our press release
- Read our letter asking Senate leadership to quickly advance the First Step Implementation Act
The Smarter Sentencing Act: Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking and some drug importation offenses. The bill would apply these changes retroactively. Many people would see their mandatory minimum sentence cut in half. FAMM supports this bill.
- Read our summary of the Smarter Sentencing Act
- Take action to support the Smarter Sentencing Act
- Read more about the Smarter Sentencing Act in our press release
Second Look Act (H.R. 3795/S. 2146)
The Second Look Act is a first of its bill that would allow judges to resentence individuals with lengthy sentences after 10 years of incarceration if the judge finds that the individual is not a danger to public safety and has shown they are prepared for reentry. This bold legislation would allow our courts to relieve thousands of individuals from excessive sentences and reward individuals for their rehabilitation
The HEROES Act (H.R. 6800)
The HEROES Act is the most recent broad COVID-19 relief package passed by the House of Representatives. It includes a number of provisions that would encourage increased releases from prison for especially vulnerable people, as well as improve general safety inside prisons during the pandemic. FAMM supports these provisions.
Pell Grant Restoration
Returning Pell Grant eligibility to people in prisons will dramatically increase the number of people who can afford to pursue college education while incarcerated, as well as the number of college programs available.
After years of advocacy, bipartisan legislation called the REAL Act, authored by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), was included in Congress’s annual spending bill, which passed in December 2020 and was signed by the President. This new law restores Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated individuals.
Fair Chance Act (H.R. 1076/S. 387)
FAMM supports the Fair Chance Act, introduced by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland), Rep. Doug Collins (R-Georgia), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.). The bill will help expand access to employment for formerly incarcerated applicants by prohibiting federal employers and contractors from inquiring about criminal history record until a conditional offer has been made.
FAMM supports the Fair Chance Act (H.R. 1076/S. 387). The Fair Chance Act is not yet law. The bill has passed through committee in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and must now pass the floors of both chambers before it can be signed into law by the President.
How Our Federal Campaign Works:
To change federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws, the U.S. Congress must pass new legislation. To help sentencing reform bills become law, FAMM meets regularly with Members of Congress and their staffs and provides them with data, resources, analysis and advice, stories of impacted people, and assistance with drafting reforms. When asked, FAMM and its supporters testify before Congress and its committees. Get involved to support our reform efforts today!
How Bills Become Law:
To become a law, a sentencing reform bill must first be introduced by a Member of Congress, then reviewed by the Judiciary Committee, passed by both Houses of Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate), and signed by the President. This can be a lengthy and difficult process. Sometimes, reform bills do not become law for several years. Each session of Congress lasts two years. Any bill that does not become a law in that two-year period “dies” at the end of that time – which means the process to make that bill a law has to start all over again from scratch in the next Congress. Learn more about how a bill becomes a law.
For more information, please contact:
Deputy Director of State Policy
1100 H Street NW, Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 822-6700