Stories - FAMM

Stories

Featured Stories

Free to Succeed: Ernest Boykin

“2027” is written boldly on the back of Ernest Boykin’s phone as a reminder of the year he would have been released, had he not...
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A Lifetime of Remorse and Service to Others

Too many people in Pennsylvania are serving long prison terms that don’t make communities safer. There are plenty of people locked up like David Mandeville,...
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When a Second Chance Means Powerhouse Advocacy

There’s nothing romantic about prison. But here’s a FAMM story that’s undeniably romantic. It’s about what happens when fierce advocacy, Fantasy Football, 35 birthday cards,...
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A Racist Disparity, the EQUAL Act, and One Man’s Redemption

The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced the disparity in sentencing for crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses from 100:1 to 18:1. But true justice...
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Motivating everything we do here at FAMM are real people—prisoners, families with loved ones locked up, returning citizens—who experience firsthand our broken criminal justice system. When FAMM started more than three decades ago, it was the stories of these people that defined our mission and our work. And that hasn’t changed.

On this page, you’ll find many different kinds of stories, featuring people of all stripes from all over the country. Each and every one of their stories shows in sharp relief the problems with bad sentencing laws and prison policies. We hope that these stories educate and inspire you, just as they do for us.

 

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Debra Cupp

Debra Cupp: Why I Tell My Story

When Debra’s husband Ron died in prison, she was devastated. But then she started telling his story. She’s still in grief, but she’s channeled some of that feeling into action and advocacy.Read More
State:
Issue: Compassionate Release
Elizabeth Melson

Success Story: Elizabeth Melson

Elizabeth was a shy child and adolescent who struggled with self-esteem issues from an early age.  Problems for Elizabeth became even worse during her teens, around the time of her parents’ separation and divorce.Read More
Category:
State:
Issue: Sentencing

Adam Kubinski’s Story: “A Real-Life Snowball”

Adam’s father Kenny is serving life for drug charges. He’s been behind bars for 24 years now, and Adam and his sisters bear the deep scars of their dad’s unfair punishment.Read More
State:
Issue: Mandatory Minimums

Success on the Inside: Kenny Kubinski

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State:
Issue: Mandatory Minimums

Michelle Taylor

As a child, Michelle was removed from her mother’s care and placed in foster homes due to sexual and physical abuse. Michelle used alcohol as an adult to cope with the pain and shame from her past. But Judge Memeo could...Read More
State:
Issue: Mandatory Minimums

Robert Shipp: The World Gave Up on Him. He Proved Them Wrong

“It feels like the world has given up on you. That you are just some throwaway, someone who is irredeemable.” That’s how Robert Shipp describes being sentenced to life in prison for a drug crime in 1994. UPDATE: Robert was...Read More
State:
Issue: Sentencing

Reentry Story: “Relentless Self-Advocacy”

“I enrolled at Portland State University eight days after my release. I have since earned 24 credits, with a 4.0 GPA, earning me the commendation of placement on the President’s List.”  Read More
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State:
Issue: Reentry

Amber Carlson: Mother Gets 10 Years

Deep in addiction and mental illness and trying to scrape together enough money for gifts for her kids one Christmas Eve, Amber Carlson agreed to transport methamphetamine for a drug dealer. She had no prior felony convictions, but she got...Read More
State: Arizona
Issue: State

Chris Young: “Barely on the Totem Pole” and Life in Prison

The judge at Chris Young’s trial described his life sentence as “way out of whack.” The absurdity of his punishment is matched, though, by the fierce passion for self-improvement and education that drives Chris now, even as he is doomed...Read More
State: Tennessee
Issue: Sentencing