Stories - FAMM


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...

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,...

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,...

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...

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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When Addiction Leads to 30 Years Behind Bars

“I am not saying that I am innocent. I did some really foolish things and failed to reach out for help for my addiction. I broke my mother’s heart.” Celeste Blair’s path from childhood trauma to addiction to prison is...Read More
Issue: Sentencing

How an Unloaded BB Gun Got a Teenager 33 Years

15 – Nick Robinson’s age when he was arrested 17 – Nick’s age when he was sent to an adult prison 33 – The number of years of his sentence 28 – How old Nick is now 2037 – The...Read More
State: Virginia
Issue: Sentencing

My Ah-Ha Moment Around a Tough Topic

Andrea Strong worked at FAMM practically since day one. She was our Director of Member Services, and over the years she talked to countless families with loved ones in prison. She knew firsthand the pain of having a loved one...Read More
Issue: Sentencing

Heather’s Story: We Need Help, Not Shame

UPDATE: Larry was released in July 2022 after serving his sentence. My name is Heather Wagner, and I have been married to my husband Larry for 19 years. During our marriage, my husband has battled a debilitating addiction to pornography....Read More
Issue: Sentencing

Advocacy, Family, and Faith

In September of 2020, Danica Acebedo Jucutan posted this happy message on the “FAMMilies in Action” Facebook page: “I just wanted to share that after the many nights and days of researching, crying, complaining, giving up … things got better....Read More
Issue: Compassionate Release

The Crack-Powder Disparity: It’s Time for Justice

In 2010, the Fair Sentencing Act reduced the crack-powder disparity in sentencing from 100:1 to 18:1. Lawmakers acknowledged that crack cocaine is no more addictive than powder and is not more likely to cause violent crime. Also true is that...Read More
Issue: Sentencing

The Need for Oversight in Florida’s Prisons: Stories From Affected People

Florida’s prisons cost taxpayers $2.5 billion annually, employ tens of thousands of people, and are responsible for the lives of 90,000 incarcerated people, yet lack independent oversight, transparency, and accountability. Here are a few of the stories from people in...Read More
State: Florida
Issue: State

The Need for Oversight in Arizona’s Prisons: Stories From Affected People

Arizona’s prisons cost taxpayers $1.3 billion annually, employ thousands of people, and are responsible for the lives of 42,000 incarcerated people, yet lack independent oversight, transparency, and accountability. Here are a few of the stories from people in prison and...Read More
State: Arizona
Issue: State

Retroactivity Needed Now to Right an Unfair Sentence

Brian Keys is ten years into a 15-year sentence for selling drugs in a school zone, his first felony. Remarkably, he now has the support of the judge who sentenced him, plus the sheriff of the county where Brian was...Read More
State: Tennessee
Issue: Drug-free school zone law