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.


  • Clear Filter

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

Antoinette’s Story: After 20 Years of Silence, I’m Sharing

I started a thing recently with my son Jay for when he calls. When I pick up, I say, “Jay’s Kitchen, how can I help?” And he always says right back, “What’s on the menu for today?” Every day I...Read More
State: Pennsylvania
Issue: Sentencing

When Compassionate Release or Clemency Would Mean Justice Served

John Brookins’ story is filled with pain and injustice. But more than that, John’s story is a love story, one that goes all the way back to his childhood, when he met a girl named Karen at the Salvation Army...Read More
State: Pennsylvania
Issue: Clemency

The Sunshine State’s Justice Reform Hero

Since Denise Rock started the criminal justice reform group Florida Cares in August 2017, the organization has impacted reform and activism around the issue in the state in a remarkable way. Yet it got its start in the most ordinary...Read More
State: Florida
Issue: Sentencing

Matthew Rushin’s Mom Just Won’t Quit Fighting

“If anyone thought I was not going to voice my opinion and that I was just going to let my son become a statistic, they had the wrong mom,” says Lavern Rushin. “They had the wrong mom.” Lavern is the...Read More
State: Virginia
Issue: Sentencing

Clearinghouse para Liberación Compasiva: Margarita Zamora

“Tuve una infancia difícil”, dice Margarita Zamora. “Mi padre nunca quiso tener nada que ver conmigo. Cuando se enteró de que mi mamá estaba embarazada, la dejó porque él era un hombre casado. Mi mama siempre tenía muchas relaciones cortas....Read More
Issue: Compassionate Release

An Unimaginable Sentence

When Darlene Wells and Jesse Dunaway met, it was “empathy at first sight.” She was working as a nurse at the institution where Jesse is a prisoner, and he was working in the staff dining hall. “You get to see...Read More
State: Virginia
Issue: Sentencing

Judy’s Story: So Many Mothers Missing Their Sons

My name is Judy McCarroll. My son’s name is Lawrence McCarroll. We were both sent to prison for drug offenses in 1995. I was sentenced to 27 years, and Lawrence was sentenced to 33. For both of us, this was...Read More
Issue: Sentencing